The scores didn’t matter, the trophies were for show and the uniforms were less than glamorous, but there were plenty of winners at the end of Vernon’s largest alumni basketball tournament.
The fifth-annual Greater Vernon Alumni Basketball Tournament saw 12 men’s and two women’s teams compete in the Vernon Secondary School (VSS) gymnasium on Dec. 26 and 27. The tournament brings together old friends and cross-city rivals as School District 22 alumni shoot hoops for bragging rights, all for a charitable cause.
“Last year alone, we handed out over $6,000 in academic-athletic scholarships,” said Jeff Samuel, tournament founder and VSS alumni.
“I have had recipients of our GVAB scholarships stop me in the street to express the positive impact our contribution has made on their life. That’s what this tournament is about.”
The Fulton Hawks took on the Multicultural Maroons in the championship game of the men’s competitive division. The Hawks emerged as victors in a tight game – a redemption after the team’s runner-up result last year.
The VSS men’s team may not have made the final, but they’re at least a candidate for best team name. The 0&76ers took third place in the men’s competitive division.
Both Fulton and VSS will receive donations to their athletic departments to help make athletics affordable for everyone on behalf of the efforts of the top three teams.
In the recreational division the VSS Old Panthers won the championship game, and in doing so they earned an academic-athletic scholarship for a graduating VSS student.
Not to be outdone, a scholarship was also won for a student graduating from Fulton, thanks to the Fulton Lady Maroons who came out on top against the VSS Lady Panthers in the women’s division.
Over the past five years the tournament has raised nearly $40,000, all of which goes back to the community. Most of the donations are distributed as scholarships to help local students who may face financial barriers as they pursue higher levels of sport and education.
Other donations are made to local charities with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, North Okanagan Hospice Society, and the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.
“Every year, local businesses really step up and support us by helping cover tournament costs, donating to our silent auction, or providing in-kind donations” said Samuel.
Samuel thanked major sponsor Concept Physiotherapy, which has supported the tournament since its inception. He also thanked a long list of other local sponsors which can be found at www.alumnibasketball.ca.