Sitting courtside at the Christmas Classic in Old Massett are, from left to right, Licoln, Hyder, Sadie, and Myka — the youngest cheering section on Haida Gwaii. More basketball action is set for this Friday and Saturday, when the Skedans Raven Clan will defend their title at the 2018 Clan Tournament in Skidegate. (Jana McLeod/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Masset Magic: A Christmas Classic to remember

By Jana McLeod

Here I am, a full hour before the column is due. That whole procrastination avoidance resolution isn’t taking. It not my fault though (perhaps the being accountable idea is in danger as well). However, letting go is in full swing! Nobody’s perfect.

That is, nobody’s perfect unless you’re talking about the moves on and off the court at the 45th Christmas Classic basketball tournament in Ga’au. I missed most of the games since I was away, but we went to the playoffs and the presentation of awards.

I never was brave enough to attend any kind of people-y occasions. If I didn’t have children I would have been happy staying home with all my stuffies and HBO. Michelle played so I had to go and watch. At the first game I think I sweated through five shirts and I wasn’t even moving. Ever since it’s the only time my social anxiety is put aside.

I couldn’t decide on one picture so I’m hoping the two I chose make the cut. One is of the up-and-coming player Kia Seward and missing in the shot is his good buddy Cal Collison.

The other are some future players who are even younger than those fellas. Cheering on their many relatives were Lincoln, Hyder, Sadie, and Myka. All have huge extended families.

I look at the image and remember their parents and grandparents still playing or having a role at the yearly event. I think that’s one of the more impressive traits of the gathering. The generations of players and volunteers who are all connected in one way or another.

Little sweetie Myka’s grandparents Sid and Colleen got to watch their daughter Toni Lynne play, along with Colleen’s sister Laura’s boys Skyler, Ronald (Hyder’s dad) and Richard (Lincoln’s dad — incidentally his daughter Mary played with the champs). You can always hear their brother Rodney’s big voice cheering for everyone.

Donna Jones Wesley, who was one of the volunteers, had six grandchildren playing and of course her sons and daughter-in-law provided many hours of first aid.

Other committee members were her husband Warren, Henry Williams, Chantel White, Rich Smith, and mister, if I listed each of their family members involved it would take the whole paper and honestly, I’m still learning who is who.

One of those people had the winning quote from last year, but the best line of 2017 goes to Ed Davis announcing the winner of the 50/50: “And the money goes to… Love Monkey.”

This is another favorite part of the get-together, the teasing and side-splitting laughter.

One cute moment was the announcement for most sportsmanship players: Abe Brown towered over Joey Pringle. I knew who she was the moment I saw her. I leaned over and said she has to be Grace Garvies’. She’s named after her uncle Joey. Her mom says she is the best big sister and on the honour roll. Smart and sporty!

Winning teams were (women) Haida Storm and (men) Skidegate Senior Saints. We missed watching David Hill take on the likes of Desi, the Alsops, and tricky Darcy Pearson. It was very entertaining to watch his sons though. Nico York took home the defensive player award — he’s on his way back to school. Tyler York got MVP, he’s on his fifteenth!

I am also really loving the mixed teams with people from each end of the island playing together. Our new Chief Councillor Duffy and his boys Greg, Aaron and Ethan got into action. I missed the man-of-the-hour play but saw pictures of CHN president Peter Lantin accompany him onto the court.

Henry Williams said it was the biggest turnout, with 20 teams playing 36 games in five days.

It was decided for the first time they would retire number 11. Willis Parnell has been at it for many years and was honoured for his contribution. His proud mom Linda Parnell watched one of the many live feeds as he and many others were brought to tears. His daughter is following in his footsteps. Camryn Parnell got MVP!

Hawaa to the many hands making this year so memorable. God bless, and take care.


Kia Seward hoists some serious hardware at the Christmas Classic in the Old Massett. (Jana McLeod/Haida Gwaii Observer)

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