The longest-running high school basketball tournament in the province returns to Port Alberni in the new year.
Planning for the 64th annual Totem Tournament at Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) is well underway, as the first games will take place on Thursday, Jan. 10.
Totem began in 1955 as a four-team boys’ tournament. This expanded to eight teams in 1982, and expanded again in 2011 to include female teams. It has become an annual community event in the Alberni Valley, drawing crowds of more than 500 to the feature games at the ADSS gym.
Totem isn’t just about basketball—it also features involvement from the ADSS cheer and dance teams, as well as the school’s pep band. Four students are also vying for a Totem Spirit crown, which will be awarded on Saturday night. A Wall of Fame induction ceremony will take place just before the feature game on Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. This year, only one individual will be joining the Wall: Elmer Mathews, in the builder category.
There are several new teams joining Totem this year, said ADSS athletic director Mike Roberts. “I’ll wait and see their faces when they turn the corner and see six or seven hundred people, and dancers and cheerleaders and all the rest of it,” he said.
It isn’t hard to draw crowds at the tournament every year. “[People] want to contribute, they want to be part of it,” said Roberts. “It’s their opportunity to give back to our program, and it’s fun. I would say it’s not necessarily a school event anymore—it’s a community event. We’ve got people that graduated from ADSS, and they enjoyed their experience and they want to keep coming and having a look.”
The tournament will begin with two games on Thursday evening, with both ADSS Armada teams playing at the ADSS gym that night. The ADSS Senior Boys will face Kwalikum at 5:15 p.m., and the ADSS Senior Girls will square off against Ucluelet at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $5 per day for ages 5-11 or $8 per day for ages 12 and up. A tournament pass is $10 for ages 5-11 or $15 for ages 12 and up. All ages can attend the Thursday night games for $5. Kids under the age of 5 enter for free.
COMING UP: Meet the Totem Spirit candidates…