“It’s kind of a big deal” is usually the slogan for Totem, the longest-running high school basketball tournament in the province.
But this year, organizers are taking a different angle: “Business as usual.”
The tournament, which has been taking place every year in Port Alberni since 1955, was cancelled earlier this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But as 2022 approaches, Alberni District Secondary School staff and students are gearing up for the return of this popular tournament, which features basketball, cheerleading, dances, a pep band and a spirit competition.
The tournament is slated to return Jan. 6, 7 and 8, 2022.
“It’s been fun the last week,” said ADSS athletic director Mike Roberts. “The kids have been working hard to promote Totem. The posters have gone up around school and the kids are really excited.
“We’re trying to have it feel just like every other Totem that we have put on,” Roberts added.
Totem began in 1955 as a four-team boys’ tournament. It expanded to eight teams in 1982, then expanded again to include female teams in 2011.
Totem may be “business as usual” for 2022, but for the dance team and Totem Spirit competitors, it’s all about the past.
This year’s dance team features six Grade 12 members who have been with the team since they were in Grade 8. They are bringing back the dance they did in their very first Totem, as an homage for their very last Totem.
On the Spirit team, two of the five members are the second generation of Totem Spirit competitors, with one of them related to a past winner. Up for Totem Spirit this year are Emma Fines, Kaitlyn Aston, Caiden Meyer, Maria Banman and Madeline Joseph.
In 2022, ADSS will also be following all provincial health orders—if any of these change, the tournament will change and adapt with them, said Roberts. Because of this, visitors aged 12 and up can expect to provide proof of vaccination, and visitors aged 18 and up have to show a piece of government ID.
For those who can’t attend the games, Shaw Cable will be airing ADSS games live on television and on YouTube, just like in past years.
“The end result is that it should feel like Totem always does,” said Roberts. “We’re back, Port Alberni.”
The tournament will begin with two games at the ADSS gym on Thursday evening, with the Armada boys playing at 5:15 p.m. and the Armada girls playing at 7 p.m. Admission cost each day is $5 for students aged 5-17 and $10 for those aged 18 and up. Anyone under the age of five can attend for free.