Alexa Tremblay (centre), one of the Totem 65 Spirit candidates, prepares to jump into the water for the annual Polar Bear Swim. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

EDITORIAL: Totem tourney steeped in tradition

Alberni District Secondary School tournament is so much more than just basketball

As Alberni District Secondary School gets set to host its 65th annual Totem basketball tournament, you may have noticed it’s kind of a big deal.

Totem features eight boys’ and eight girls’ teams competing over three days, from Jan. 9–11, this year. The tournament is so much more than just basketball though.

This year’s Totem Spirit competition changed the rules so individuals could enter, and as a result has a record number of entries with 11 students vying for the title. They’ve spent the past few weeks stirring up enthusiasm for the tournament beyond the school’s walls, and demonstrating their growing leadership skills in the meantime.

Another aspect of Totem to note is the Armada Athletic Wall of Fame. When the new high school opened on Roger Street, a wall of fame was built in the foyer between the two gymnasiums; recognizing past athletes and their contributions to sport and community.

Because those inducted have to be at least 10 years out of high school, Totem 65 does not have any inductees for 2020. The school is, however, giving posthumous recognition to Denny Grisdale, an influential basketball player and supporter who died in October 2019.

Grisdale was a member of the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the BC Basketball Hall of Fame for his role on the 1955 team that won the Canadian Basketball Championship. He was also a staunch supporter of Totem: in 1966 he helped start the ‘Miss Totem’ competition that in 1994 became Totem Spirit.

At the Alberni Valley News, we’ve written a number of stories previewing different aspects of the tournament and students’ involvement. We’ll be covering the pep band, dance and cheer teams, Totem Spirit contest and of course basketball games this weekend.

While it may seem like an exhorbitant amount of space and time to give to one tournament, we look at it this way: if hundreds of students, teachers and volunteers at the high school and countless sponsors in the community can devote their time to Totem, so can we.

We’re proud to be gold sponsors for the tournament, and to bring you the stories behind the longest-running basketball tournament in British Columbia.

Totem is so much more than just a basketball tournament: it’s an opportunity for our youth to showcase their leadership and talent in a variety of ways. It’s also a chance for our community to support our youth.

— Alberni Valley News

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