By Heidi Bevington-Two Skidegate basketball players will be inducted into the All Native Basketball Tournament Hall of Fame at this year’s All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert February 9-15.
Garner Moody and Marvin Pearson, both of the Skidegate Masters, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony Friday Feb. 14.
Mr. Moody, the Skidegate Master’s centre, has played basketball for 34 of his 44 years. His proudest moment as a player came at the All Native tournament final in1981 when his team reached half time 27 points down, but turned the game around to win the championship. He thinks the Skidegate Masters will be one of the top three teams this year, with a good shot at first place.
Mr. Pearson, who has also played as Marvin Collinson, has played basketball since he was 12 or 13. He has played for the Skidegate Masters for 7 years as a guard. He also played with the Skidegate Saints in his youth. Mr. Pearson has an especially vivid memory of a game played with the Skidegate Saints at the Western Canada Basketball Tournament when he was 19 or 20. The Saints were the underdog team, with no fans present in the auditorium, playing against the tough St. Mary’s, Alberta team. “They beat everyone until they ran into us,” says Mr. Pearson.
Seven of the 54 participating teams at this year’s All Native will be from the islands. The tournament is divided into four divisions: Intermediate for youth 21 and under, Masters for men 22-35, Seniors for men 35 and older and a Woman’s division for women of all ages. Skidegate will send teams in all four divisions, and Masset will send teams for the three men’s divisions.
“It’s our world championship,” says Ed Russ will play for the Massett Haida Guardians. He’s been playing at the All Native for close to 20 years, since he was 14 years old. “I don’t know why basketball is so important here. Our elders were into it, and it snowballed from there. We grew up with it. It’s a little bit too soggy around here to do anything else,” he says.
“The All Native is important to me because of friends and family. For instance, I get to see my wife’s family from Alaska. And there are a lot of friends I only get to see at the All Native. It’s also the competition that is unmatched for a native person,” adds Mr. Russ.
The Prince Rupert area has always been a traditional gathering place and fishing ground for the Tsimshian nation, says tournament organizer Conrad Lewis. Groups from as far away as the Nass and Skeena rivers would travel there to fish. In more recent history, the All Native has become a major cultural event with many communities and nations involved. This year players will come from as far away as Hydaburg, Ahousat, Kamloops and Masset, he says.
Mr. Lewis estimates that between 2500 and 3000 people will attend. The All Native has economic as well as cultural significance. The annual event is the largest Prince Rupert hosts, and as much as $2 million dollars could be spent at hotels, restaurants and stores in the city.
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