By Roberta Aiken, Observer All-Native Tournament reporter–From February 6 – 12, the Haida Nation will be attending the 46th Annual All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert.
Going with a total of 9 Haida Teams from Hydaburg, Massett and Skidegate, there is a guarantee our presence will be strongly noted. Not only are our basketballers representing our nation, we are the hosts for the opening ceremonies on Tuesday evening (Feb. 8). The delegation of our Hereditary Chiefs will be there along with a massive group of Haida Dancers coming together and of course all the fans.
Life here on Haida Gwaii just might be rather quiet for that week, but I bet most all who can tune into CFNR Radio will be listening hard to all the games. I will be able to post the schedule of aired games once I get to Prince Rupert.
The teams playing in this year’s tournament are numbering at 56 in all 4 divisions. Games begin Sunday Feb. 6 at 1 pm and carry straight through until Saturday Feb. 12 at 7:30 pm.
The schedule for all our Haida Teams first games is as follows:
Sunday Feb 6
2:30pm, Masset Masters vs. Gitwinkshilkw
6:30 pm, Skidegate Masters vs. Kake, Alaska
9:30 pm, Hydaburg Masters vs. Lax Kwalaams
Monday February 7
9:30 am, Masset Intermediates vs. Bella Bella
11:00 am, Masset Women’s vs. Kitkatla
9:30 pm, Masset Seniors vs. (Met AK or Bella Bella)
Tuesday February 8
8:00 am, Hydaburg Int. vs. (Greenville or F-ship House)
9:30 am, Skidegate Int vs. (Klemtu or Gitwinkshilkw)
1:00 pm, Hydaburg Seniors vs. (Kake AK or Kitimaat)
When I took a look at the teams heading over for this I sat in amazement. Great teams and great ambassadors for the Haida Nation in the past and for many years to come, I started to do some researching of the talent that has been recognized on an individual level soon enough I started to add it all up and we as an entire nation have brought home a grand total of 27 Most Valuable Player Trophies since 1960 to 2004. With a total of 12 of those coming from the Intermediate Division; 13 in the Senior Division and 2 in the Masters Division (Marvin Pearson got MVP Masters in 1995 playing for Musqueam) one can rest assured that there would be a few more on the way. It was great to look at all that so closely. James Young was the first to bring home MVP hardware back in 1963 for the Intermediates. Way to go “Muggs”.
In the Senior Division it was Sid Edenshaw who was the first there and he has in total brought home 6 MVP trophies in his career so far. Way to go Sid keep them coming.
And the one MVP trophy brought home in the Masters Division was done so by Russell Gladstone in the year 2000. Way to go Russell I am sure you are more than capable to bring that home again.
Ending off last year’s 2004 Tournament in the Semi – Final and Final games we seen 3 divisions ending up with a total of 5 our teams in the top 3.
Intermediate Division Skidegate Int 2004 Champions Hydaburg Int 2nd Place Met, Ak Int 3rd Place Senior Division Hydaburg Seniors 2004 Champions Masset seniors 2nd Place Ahousat seniors 3rd Place Masters Division Kitimaat Masters 2004 Champions Kincolith Masters 2nd Place Skidegate Masters 3rd Place
Coach of the Skidegate Masters Kevin Borserio says this: The All Native Tournament is a powerful experience both basketball and unity wise. It is a great experience for all nations. Kevin really enjoys going for this reason and likes the feeling of all-Haida representation from the three villages coming together. With eight years coaching the Skidegate Masters, they have always dedicated all their games to the elders and those supporters that have passed away. Those two groups are in their minds all the time. This is his tenth year coaching for Skidegate and he considers it a true privilege and honour to do this. Coach Borserio thinks they are really prepared and have been practising three days a week for the past three months and feels the masters division is improving every year. There are three to four teams which are close in the running which makes for some of the best tournament games. Feels good about their chances to be playing in the finals and anyone playing in a game will know they have played their best and that is all that matters. They feel they have come a long way as a team and having the years behind them to jell together brings them closer all the time.
Coach of Masset Women’s – Oliver Bell says:
Heading over after qualifying in the November tournament and placing second there. The Masset women are feeling confident with Gale and Jessica Bedard on the team, which leaves some definite threats of close games. So far there has never been a Championship result in the All Native and Oliver Bell says they only had 3 weeks to a month to prepare the Masset women. “We did great with the pick up and have gotten better since November these women have really jelled as a team.” They have been dealing with a couple of the young girls that have never played on a competitive level like this tournament it leaves a lot of excitement with the team, they are nervous as they have no height but have the talent on the bench. Mr. Bell says the All Native is an exciting time as throughout the years he has watched the calibre of ball advance at the All Native and has therefore enhanced each player’s goals in life with more and more of them heading into college and playing ball at that level yet still bringing them back each year for the Tournament.
On behalf of the three Hydaburg teams Matthew Carle Senior says:
“This is really a great tournament; it is by far my favourite!” It gives everyone a chance to see old friends and make new ones. People do not travel too much these days but when it comes time for this tournament they come out of the wood work from everywhere. “It is an amazing time to be there, there is a lot of pride in the tournament from all the nations.”
Coming from Alaska to Rupert he says “the All Native Tournament is the best he has ever been to because everyone is so involved and it brings out the cultures which is what ” I don’t see too much of anywhere else, and I get to see all my family from Massett and Skidegate”. As far as the games go he says he “really enjoys watching the player’s progress up the ranks from the intermediate level and into their Masters years. There are so many talented players out there. Which makes any prediction a tough one for anyone, the Haida teams are strong and a force to be reckoned with and Matthew Senior says “He knows for a fact that all the Haida’s practices and disciplines makes them what they are on the court.” In his final comment he says that “I notice every year all the players in this tournament play with all heart and even if the level is not there so much they still play with heart and carry each others to a level above themselves!”
Mike Lee-Official in charge of the officials says:
Mike Lee has been officiating at the All Native for about 10 years now. He says “the tournament is well run by the committee and we, the officials, are well supported in our efforts to participate as the ANT Committee wholeheartedly supports the officials and decisions that are made on the courts. Every time we blow our whistle we have to make a call and are not always right but our percentage on being right is still in our favour.” Mr. Lee says he “has noticed a big growth in the tournament even in the past 10 years.” In years past he says “the games were split between the main gym and local high schools, which made it tough for all to have to up and travel outside of the Civic Centre. Now all the games are held in the centre” and he says “having the arena has added a different dimension to the games as there are far more numbers of cheering fans able to stick closely by all the tournament action, this is a great venue having it all in one place.” Mike also says”with the calibre of play increasing on all levels the officials have to be on their game.” We have a good crew of officials coming to this tournament and we have a tough job to allow players to play without interference from us.”
In my years away and not making it to the tournament, it’s so wonderful to come back and see the growth and high caliber of basketball. Not too often are the organizers of this tournament commended for all their time and dedication. So I “tip my hat” to the All Native Chair – Farley Stewart and the committee. I must say though that I keep on hearing about Conrad Lewis and Peter Hogan. They seem to put countless hours far in advance of the tournament and I have been asked to mention that there are loads of folks out here that notice that and would like to acknowledge these two men out of the many others working wholeheartedly on the All Native Team. Great work and just know that thousands of us truly appreciate it every year.To all the teams, have a great tournament week, be safe and let the games begin.
Watch for article and all kinds of pictures during the tournament and a final summary of tournament in the paper and the www.qciobserver.com, where reults and pictures will be posted daily.