Come Sunday morning, Aaron Mitchell will be banging out a St. Thomas More Chancellor report that’s equal parts review and preview.
“I’ll send an email to the coaches with the final results and asking teams to let us know if they want to come back next year or not,” said Mitchell, the longtime bench boss of the St. Thomas More Knights, the Burnaby-based host squad for this weekend’s boys’ basketball tournament.
“After that, I’ll go to the list. We’ve got four or five schools that are waiting to get in next year. That’s pretty cool. Sunday morning the email goes out and we’ll start planning again.”
There are dozens of tournaments every weekend during the high school basketball season, starting with the tip-off events in November and running through to February, when the playoffs get going.
According to the B.C. High School Boys Basketball website, there are 15 boys tournaments this weekend alone, including the Chancellor and Terry Fox’s Legal Beagle, which are two of the more established invitationals.
It’s a massive jigsaw puzzle with a countless possible solutions that, thanks to the efforts of people such as Mitchell, somehow gets completed every year.
“It’s not about people recognizing how hard this is,” Mitchell said of running a tournament. “It’s about recognizing that you’re creating memories for the kids. It’s about paying it back and paying it forward and who your mentors were growing up and you becoming a mentor.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of work. Sunday morning, I’m exhausted. Is it worth it? Yeah. And it doesn’t just happen with me.”
Mitchell lauded his team’s parent group, which is taking turns working the coaches’ room and making sure there’s food there throughout the day. Jake Mouritzen, the coach of Chilliwack’s G.W. Grizzlies, said the same about his team’s parent group. The Grizzlies run a 16-team tournament in December.
Mouritzen also saluted referee and referee allocators for helping make it all happen.
High school basketball in particular and high school sports and extracurriculars in general would be well suited to have more folks like Mitchell and Mouritzen pumping the tires.
“To me, it’s what makes high school basketball so special,” Mouritzen said of the in-season tournaments. “Most of us have gotten into club basketball. Their tournaments, more often than not, are about making money. There are good opportunities for competition, but they’re trying to get you in and trying to get you out and get another game going.
“With high school, you want to put on something that people want to come back to. You want to put together a huge coaches room. You want to celebrate what they’re doing. You want lots of awards.
“We have posters. We have a three-point shooting contest. You want to make it an experience. Everybody doesn’t make the provincials. For some teams, these tournaments are their provincials.”
The Legal Beagle, which started Thursday, features eight of the top-10 teams in the Quad A rankings, including the No. 1 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Surrey and the No. 2 Terry Fox Ravens of Port Coquitlam. Its final goes 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Chancellor title matchup is at 6 p.m. that night, and that tournament includes six of the top-10 teams in the Triple A rankings, led by the No. 1 North Delta Huskies and the No. 2 Sir Charles Tupper Tigers of Vancouver.
The irony in all of this is that Mitchell would be a mainstay watching Legal Beagle if he wasn’t otherwise occupied. He’s one of the best players in Terry Fox history, helping them win the provincial title in 1994.
“We just had an alumni email two nights ago and the guys over there know, ‘Sorry, I’ve got our own tournament,’” said Mitchell. “I want to see to their tournament do just as well as ours. I want to see every tournament do well.
“There are other tournaments besides the Beagle and the Chancellor this week. There are other people trying and working at it.”
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