LANGLEY — It’s that time again, time to put the old notebook on hold for the course of the summer.
Before we do, however, let’s take some time for reflection on the season past.
Today I offer, from hundreds to choose from, my Top 10 most impactful memories. In the end, it’s not the actual ranking that matters most. It’s more the big-picture message they represent when taken as a whole.
In sum, I hope they represent a feeling that in some way reflects your own experience.
10 BRODIE STRIKES AGAIN
Few if any student-athletes in B.C.’s Class of 2018 carried as potent a combination of skill and winning karma as Langley Christian’s Brodie Hofer.
He missed virtually the entire regular season nursing a pair of broken toes suffered while chasing the family dog at home, yet upon his post-season return, led the Lightning to a repeat title at the B.C. senior boys AA championships. In the fall, the next chapter of his career begins with the national title-contending Trinity Western Spartans.
9 DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD
Not every piece I write each season deals with the biggest games.
Sometimes, it’s fun to reflect on what high school sports really means.
To that end, I found it especially profound to watch a boys high school soccer game involving the two high schools I attended from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.
8 MIDDLE-DISTANCE RENAISSANCE
It was the season in which B.C. senior girls high school track and field championship meet records fell in three traditional middle-distance events.
At the same June meet in which Villanova-bound Taryn O’Neill of Lake Country’s George Elliott Secondary set new standards in the 1,500m and 3,000m races, New Westminster’s Oregon State-bound Grace Fetherstonhaugh broke her own record in the 1,500m steeplechase.
Their excellence was breathtaking. And we may be waiting a long, long time before we see such dominance again.
7 MICHAEL’S METRICS
Michael Calvert’s senior season at South Delta Secondary carried a wow factor that was unmistakable.
The Sun Devils’ quarterback set a new B.C. high school football single-game passing record of 654 yards, to go along with seven touchdowns.
Later, he committed his collegiate future to the UBC Thunderbirds, then he laced up his rugby cleats and played a huge role in leading the Sun Devils to the B.C. Triple A senior boys varsity rugby championship.
6 MIGHTY MIGUEL
Miguel Tomley of Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats has not left my radar since his ninth grade season.
After a trying Grade 11 season in which he basically did not play high school games due to eligibility issues pertaining to an ill-timed return home from an eastern prep school, Tomley re-wrote the record books at the B.C. Quad A basketball championships in March.
He will return to the prep school world this coming season en route to what most expect will be a transition to one of the top programs in NCAA Div. 1 men’s basketball in 2019-20.
5 HYACK HEROICS
Every season must be taken on its own merits, and there are plenty of reasons to get excited about the upcoming 2018 B.C. high school football campaign.
Yet if you’re expecting a finish with as much drama as we saw last December at B.C. Place Stadium, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Subway Bowl 2017, won by the New Westminster Hyacks over the Terry Fox Ravens, was truly a game for the ages.
Here’s two different reads from the pages of Varsity Letters:
4 SHE NEVER STOPS
Megan Roxby’s running career has had more than it’s share of hurdles.
When I re-visited with the West Vancouver Highlanders’ SFU-bound senior this spring, I found out that she had run her race at the Canadian national cross-country championships back in the fall with a broken right leg.
This is a story of a courageous athlete battling through multiple adversities.
3 DYLAN’S DESIRE
When Lord Tweedsmuir basketball star Dylan Kinley opened up to me about his battles with dyslexia, he did so without a hint of self-pity.
In a story centred around celebrating life from the half-full perspective, Kinley’s contagious attitude of empathy and self-empowerment made him a leader of the rarest variety.
2 LEST WE FORGET
Thank you, players, coaches, administrators, volunteers and fans of B.C. high school basketball for showing your best and strongest side in the face of extreme adversity.
Over a span of just 43 days from late October to early December, our tight-knit community lost both a pioneer of our game in 78-year-old former North Delta Huskies head coach Stan Stewardson, and a beloved young player with the brightest of futures in Panorama Ridge’s Raphael Alcoreza.
Before we go any further, we extend continued thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of all those concerned, and to all of those who lost loved ones. We hope you will always see their brightest light as you continue to work through your grief.
Throughout this past season, Stewardson’s story continued to resonate with Huskies’ players, who not only took his example onto the floor during a magical run to the B.C. senior boys AAA Final Four, but introduced memorial patches as a part of their game-day kit as a constant reminder of his influence and ideals.
Personally, I will always remember being at my own tournament, the Tsumura Basketball Invitational, on the day after the passing of Alcoreza, who had collapsed and was rushed to a hospital during a late November game.
Alcoreza lost his fight on Dec. 7 and the next day, the outpouring from the entire B.C. basketball community was so heartfelt.
1 A SELFLESS SOUL
I can only say this: In 35 years of writing, I have never been given the opportunity to tell a more important story than that of Yale Secondary basketball star Bradley Braich.
While still in the midst of his battle, he trusted me to tell his story of the struggles he was having with mental illness because he wanted as many others as possible to know they were not alone.
It’s not overstating things to say he started a revolution in B.C. high schools and beyond, a movement whose importance simply cannot be overstated.
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