Totem, the longest-running high school basketball tournament in B.C., is the first major sporting event of Port Alberni’s year.
Traditionally it kicks off the second weekend of January, and sees 16 boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from around Vancouver Island and Vancouver travel to our city to vie for bragging rights on the court.
This year would have been the 66th annual Totem tourney. Students would be heading back to school after the Christmas break and immediately into Totem Spirit events, ramping up excitement throughout the school community in the days leading to the opening game.
Instead, Totem 66 is the first of many sporting events for 2021 that have been cancelled thanks to COVID-19.
Last year’s Totem squeaked in under the COVID-19 radar, two months before a worldwide coronavirus pandemic was declared in March 2020.
It is strange to think the two gymnasiums at Alberni District Secondary are silent, as teams aren’t practicing for any sport so far this season. Usually the wrestling teams are busy vying for space with basketball, because two months after Totem the high school wrestling invitational is held—another event that annually attracts hundreds of people to the community.
Missing Totem 66 this year is not just a void at the high school, as ADSS athletic director and tournament director Mike Roberts says. It is a void in the community.
The tourney is kind of a big deal, as it promotes itself: community members look forward to packing the stands for every game, and they become social events as much as sporting contests.
There’s nothing we can say to this year’s senior class that will take away the disappointment of not participating in Totem 66. If anything, this COVID-19 year will show you not what you can handle so much as how you can adapt.
But we want you to know we’re missing it too.
— Alberni Valley News