The Kwalikum Secondary School alumni basketball tournament has taken place for roughly 25 years.
For the first time last weekend, it bore the name of its co-founder.
The Bob Bate Memorial Alumni Tournament drew six men’s teams — including the current KSS senior boys squad — and two women’s teams for a weekend of camaraderie and competition.
Bate was a longtime teacher and coach at KSS who died earlier this month following a fight with cancer. Most of the players in last weekend’s tourney played for Bate at one point or another, including Bobby’s Team, the tight-knit Class of 2004.
Members of Bobby’s Team, were coached by Bate from their Grade 7 season in middle school through their Grade 12 year and said this year’s tourney was especially emotional.
Bobby’s Team, left, poses for photos by family, friends and fans following their game against the current Kwalikum Secondary senior boys on Saturday in the Bob Bate Memorial Alumni Tournament at KSS. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
“I called him everybody’s best friend,” said Dave Frampton, the current KSS boys coach who helped Bate start the alumni tournament “about 25 years ago.
“He was a tremendous mentor,” Frampton said of Bate. “You look out there on the floor and you see teachers, coaches, RCMP officers. (His death is) a big loss, but his legacy continues in these young guys who have taken on mentorship roles themselves.”
Glory Days, led by 6-foot-8 post Tim Bigelow, outdueled No Hope in Hell to regain the tournament crown it held for three straight years before losing it last winter.
Bigelow was named MVP, earning the Golden Sneaker Award.
The basketball really took second billing on a weekend built around reconnecting and remembering a lost leader. A memorial service was held for Bate in the same school gym Tuesday afternoon.
“The big draw is to come out and see all your friends again,” said Kevin Frampton, a 2012 KSS grad now attending the University of Victoria. “Underlying all that, of course, is that competitive nature. Everyone wants to win.”
Frampton joked his No Hope in Hell lived up to its name before gaining a spot in the championship final Sunday. Unfortunately, he was unavailable for the final after rolling his ankle in the final 30 seconds of his team’s opening game.
“Usually nobody gets hurt in this thing,” joked Dave Frampton, Kevin’s father. “This year, we’ve had two or three guys go down. Nothing serious, fortunately.”
The commemorative tournament T-shirt bore a silhouetted image of Bate, shooting his inimitable left-handed shot.
A single small line of print ran across the back of the shirt, stating, “You can’t teach that.”
Kyle Dykstra, who played for Bobby’s Team, is another teacher who coached many of today’s KSS senior boys when they were younger.
Eight of the nine players on Bobby’s Team graduated together in 2004, and several of them have also served as youth coaches.
Kevin McMillen the is current coach with the Ballenas Secondary School senior boys program.
“I’ve coached,” said Dykstra. “Tyson (Taylor), Kevin, they’ve coached, too. Gord (Robinson) coached football.”
Robinson pointed at Bate’s image on Dykstra’s T-shirt.
“That’s why we do it, right there,” Robinson said.
Bobby’s team wrapped up its first day of play Saturday night against the current school team, and showed that David Mamet’s quote “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exhuberance” still holds true.
After the KSS seniors drew ahead briefly at 31-30 early in the second half, Bobby’s Team embarked on a 14-0 run to break open the contest.
“We just have more inertia,” McMillen cracked.
After Kwalikum Secondary guard Liam Cullen banked in a three-point shot at the final buzzer to close out a 62-54 Bobby’s Team’s win, the alumni gathered at the midcourt Kondors logo as family and friends snapped pictures — and wisecracks.
“I don’t remember you guys being that good,” family member Monica Ciolfi said.
Above: Jonathan de Boer of Bobby’s Team, right, drives to the hoop as Anthony Crowther of the Kwalikum Secondary senior boys team defends Saturday in the Bob Bate Memorial Alumni Tournament at KSS. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS