The countdown is on for the 61st annual Totem Basketball Tournament at Alberni District Secondary—and everyone’s getting excited.
“It’s bigger than just the school, it’s the whole community coming together. The atmosphere, the energy, the tradition… it’s amazing,” said athletic director Mike Roberts.
It’s going to be big—this is the second year with 16 teams total, eight boys and eight girls.
The school originally tried it for their 60th annual tournament last year and realized that the extra work was worth it.
“It’s really not much more work—it was fine,” Roberts said.
Totem has grown in size since its inception in 1955.
“From 1956 to 1981 was four teams, 1982 it went to eight teams and we did that all the way through till last year,” said organizer Greg Freethy.
The girls’ side of the program wasn’t added until 2010—but since then, it’s flourished.
“The girls’ program here has been very strong and successful—it’s just good basketball,” said Roberts.
“Over the last several years, they’ve given us the most memorable games.”
Roberts said that giving the girls’ teams a showcase like Totem has elevated girls’ basketball at ADSS.
“Much like the younger boys in the community, the girls are inspired and dream to be a part of Totem,” said Freethy, who’s coached girls’ basketball in the past.
“In the past, it was just a “boy’s thing” and there wasn’t really a place for the girls to be showcased.”
Totem allows them to be involved in every aspect of the tournament.
“The junior girls are in charge of running the merch table so they sit there and watch every game,” said Freethy.
“They’re chomping at the bit for their chance to be in Totem.”
It’s the tournament’s ability to inspire those outside of the basketball community, however, that’s been key to its popularity over the years.
“It’s so much more than just basketball.
“Totem Spirit does a good job of that. The community and ex-grads still come back,” said Freethy.
“It’s hard to put into words.”
“It’s like what the back of our shirts says—it’s kind of a big deal.”
Totem 61 comes to ADSS from Jan. 7–9. A special Totem Spirit celebration is also in the works for Jan. 8.
Thursday is white night and Friday is red—show your Totem spirit and wear your colours!
Awards will come Saturday night.
Tickets are $5 for all on Thursday night, $5 for ages five to 12 and $8 for 13 and up for Friday and Saturday. A Totem pass is $10 for ages five to 12 and $15 for 13 and up. Kids under five get in free and proceeds from ticket, concession and merchandise sales will go back into school programs.