The Totem 66 basketball tournament was scheduled for Jan. 6–8, 2022. Recent public health orders cancelling all tournaments mean Totem 66 will have a different look. Organizers won’t find out until at least Jan. 5 whether they will be able to postpone or run the event as a showcase for ADSS teams.
Totem, the longest-running high school basketball tournament in British Columbia, isn’t just about what happens on the court. Sideline activities are just as important for students at host school Alberni District Secondary School.
Two teams that traditionally get the crowds cheering before any tip-off are the dance and cheer teams from ADSS. “It adds an atmosphere,” says Olivia Warman, who plays for the senior girls’ Armada basketball team. “It’s next level. It gets you really excited and ready to play. Just the support adds a whole other level to the experience.”
Coach Ryan Broekhuizen says he likes the cheer and dance team performances “because it brings out a diversity of people to watch basketball,” he said.
“It introduces a bunch of new people to the sport—maybe someone’s little brother or sister comes to watch their sister dance and decide they like this game. So exposure to the sport is big for me.”
This year’s dance team is going back to its Grade 8 roots for inspiration.
“The dance we’re doing this year is really special for the Grade 12s,” said Madeline Joseph, a Grade 12 dancer and also Totem Spirit candidate. “It’s the dance we performed when we were in Grade 8. We thought it would be fun to bring it back for our final year.”
It was also the year the dance team won Totem Spirit with a candidate, they add.
The dance team typically lines up by grade, with new dancers from Grade 8 in the back row and graduating dancers in the front row, team member Jordan Simpson explained. “It’s cool that for the first year we did the dance we were in the back line. This year we’ll be in front and we’re still all together in the front line.”
The routine promises to be fun, says Emma Fines—also a Totem Spirit candidate. “It’s not technically difficult. It just gets the crowd excited.”
And the Grade 12 students especially are excited to perform at Totem 66—in whatever form the basketball showcase may take in 2022.
This year’s cheer team is smaller in number compared to other years, says team co-captain Maria Banman. Also a member of Totem Spirit, Banman is sharing captaining duties this year with Kayla Ralph. Both are Grade 12 students.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions at the end of the 2021 school year, the cheer team didn’t hold tryouts until September. They usually hold them at the end of June so cheer athletes have more time to practice, instructor Lizabeth Bill said. Hence the smaller squad.
“I’m proud of how people have been working really hard,” Ralph said. “We have a lot of new girls this year and they’re learning and improving really quickly with a short deadline.”
“Everyone has picked up the stunts very well,” Banman said. During media day the cheer team performed a number of stunts for the cameras, including torches, arabesques and extensions.
Both Banman and Ralph have created a captain’s routine that the whole squad has been practicing especially for Totem 66. “That’s one of the things we do a lot of at Totem, is bring in school spirit,” Ralph said. The cheer team performs at every feature game, especially at halftime. They also have a Space Jam routine that they perform with the dance team.
Totem 66 was supposed to be the cheer team’s first time performing in front of a crowd in more than a year, since the 2021 tourney was cancelled due to COVID-19. The team will now wait with other participants to see whether Totem 66 will be a go.
The team usually travels to three cheer team competitions in Vancouver each school year, including one in January; the jury is still out on whether any of those events will take place in 2022.