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Gingras’ MVP performance propels Vernon Christian School

Royals’ Caitlin Gingras, teammates and father-coach guide team to first-ever provincial tourney berth
Caitlin Gingras of the Vernon Christian School Royals (left) has helped guide her team to a first-ever provincial championship tournament berth. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

She used to love throwing down massive slam dunks on the baby basketball hoop in the family living room with older brother Luke and younger brother Oliver.

Now, middle sister Caitlin Gingras, a five-foot-nine Grade 11 standout with the Vernon Christian School Royals, is as happy hitting a two-point shot, a basket from beyond the three-point arc or feeding the teammates she’s known since kindergarten.

Named one of the top 15 to watch in 2021-22 in veteran writer Howard Tsumura’s Varsity Letters online column, Gingras has helped lead the Royals to where no VCS high school girls basketball team has gone before: the provincial championships.

“I’m really competitive, a perfectionist,” said Gingras. “I see others doing things that I want to do so I continue to work at it so I’m doing what everybody else is doing.”

Gingras, 16, was the tournament MVP at the Okanagan Valley Senior A Girls finals in Kelowna, which saw the provincially fifth-ranked Royals stun the host Kelowna Christian Knights, ranked third in B.C., 49-45. Gingras had 25 points and 10 rebounds as VCS played in its first-ever Okanagan final, won its first-ever Valley championship and beat KCS for the first time.

“I can’t remember a time not being in a gym,” said Gingras. “I started in the Steve Nash League and I think my first organized game was in Grade 4.”

Her dad, Robere, got her started in the Steve Nash League. Today, not only is he her basketball coach at VCS but also Gingras’ math and science teacher at VCS.

“We are very close,” said Gingras of the relationship she enjoys with her father. “I have a different respect for him as dad, as coach and as a teacher.”

Gingras – who wears No. 2 because it was the only small-sized uniform that fit her when she started playing – warmed up for the post-season by dropping in 53 and 44 points in a pair of exhibition games against the top-two ranked teams in B.C., Unity Christian of Chilliwack and Credo Christian of Langley, both close defeats for the Royals.

Her play has and will spark interest from college programs.

“I haven’t really set a place or a location yet, I just want to make sure I put the work in to be the best I can be,” said Gingras. “I’m looking at Canada West. I’d like to stay on the West Coast.”

Gingras is part of five Grade 11s, two Grade 12s and three Grade 10s that make up the Okanagan-champion Royals.

“We’ve been together for almost 12 years, so we are a very close group,” she said. “We added some Grade 10s and we welcomed them to our team.”

“It’s a K-to-12 so girls in Caitie’s class have been friends since kindergarten,” said Robere. “They are a very special group and pleasure to coach.”

It’s Robere’s second year coaching his daughter. During the COVID season of 2020-21, there were no games. Coaching a daughter with unlimited potential comes with some challenges.

“As a parent, you want to be there with them and and watch them experience the game, that’s really special,” he said. “I was coached by my dad. It hasn’t phased her yet but it comes with the same kind of weight.”

The B.C. Senior Girls A Basketball Championships will be hosted by Kelowna Christian School March 2-5, and the Royals will likely be a top-three seed for the tournament.

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Vernon Christian School Royals senior girls basketball coach Robere Gingras shares a hug with daughter Caitlin after winning the North Zone Senior Girls A title in Salmon Arm. IKristal Burgess Photography)

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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