Sunday, February 22, 2009

resliency....

A little over a year ago, 7 players from the Bathurst High School basketball team were killed in an accident on the way home from a game. The were riding in the van driven by their coach who survived. His wife did not. His daughter did. These are the bare boned facts of a tragedy which threw loved ones, friends into a pit of despair and mourning so soulfelt that every single person in this province and many across the country weeped for them.

The province of New Brunswick is a small community. There are only 700,000 or so people who call it home. That's the population of a medium sized city on a global scale. Even though the city of Bathurst, located on the north shore is 250 km away from Fredericton, it's nothing for one team to play another. If you want the competition, you've got to submit to doing a lot of driving on the weekends.


Consequently, the boys who played on the Bathurst High School Phantom basketball team were known by their peers in almost every single high school in the province. Not only that, many of them played against one another on the soccer pitch or the baseball field too. Our kids took this to heart. Our kids last winter hurt deeply over the tragedy, as did the coaches, the parents, the siblings, the friends. We lost 8 beautiful people who somehow, despite the distance felt like they lived on our own street. The Phantom basketball team shut down after the tragedy. It was too painful to even consider carrying on.


I never wrote about this story. Many did. But, for some reason I didn't feel that it was my story to write. It felt like an intrusion on their privacy? I don't know, but something stopped me. However it didn't stop me from thinking about the survivors, the mourners, the city of Bathurst many times over the year, wondering how they were managing to heal, to move on.....to remember without it suffocating. I thought long and hard about them last Sunday when I was driving home from my own son's basketball game in Sussex on a highway thick with slushy snow and freezing rain.




Basketball is a big sport in a country where indoor pursuits are needed in the middle of winter. Like hockey, basketball is quite organized....many kids play through the YMCA system like my son and continue on with school teams. The University is big in the sport. Hoops are found on most streets right alongside the nets for road hockey. This is the time of year when tournaments kick in as does the travel.


Just down the road from where I live, the Provincial championships were played yesterday. Turns out the Bathurst High School Phantoms were there, including a young lad named Brad Arseneau who had survived the crash. It was decided last fall to get a team together at the school to complete at the AA level. Most of the starters are only in Grade 10....15 and 16 years old. Turns out this Phantom team despite the odds, and all the emotions tied into the still fresh history of the school managed to win 26 games in a row in order to make it to the provincial finals.


A bit of a miracle, the media has called it. No doubt....resiliency, love, support and determination made this miracle happen....


Just last week, another crisis hit home. Their head coach collapsed during a practise and was sent to Montreal for tests. Other staff took over with the support of the team and family. And for moral support, hundreds of classmates, family, teachers and friends made the trip from the north shore, 250 kms to Fredericton to cheer them on. The gym must've been a sea of black and red, the Phantom colours. The air was most definately filled with familiar sounds of the game, the songs, the shouts, the clapping and encouraging chants.....the hearts and minds of everyone on both the game being played yesterday and the unbelievable loss.


They won. They beat the Campobello Vikings 82-50. Wearing his friend Nathan's number 7 on his jersey to honour him, Brad Arseneau scored 25 points in the winning game. He was named Most Valuable Player. Sometimes the right thing happens......God bless him. God bless them all.

Shiny happy faces on this team....joy never felt this way before.
***My good friend, Charles was there LIVE and in person covering the event as he does many events in this city.....as a crazy man blogger. He took many wonderful pictures throughout the b-ball game. I welcome you to check it out and while you're at it, please say hi to him. I promise he won't bite back. *****

13 comments:

myrtle beached whale said...

nice, feel good story.

paulwchambers said...

Who has not first tried to get out of a tough situation before truly dealing with it?

Awareness said...

rick....it really is. I wish I had been there. I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

paul...their fortitude and integrity is astounding given what they have all had to cope with. It is a small community with one high school...very close knit. I don't know if I could've overcome such pain and dealt with it with such bravery.

paulwchambers said...

it's inspiring

Awareness said...

i agree....and i hope i remember this inspiration when i'm confronting my own adversity. your original question makes me realize im guilty of trying to bail too soon sometimes.
then, there are times when i'm most definately there for the long haul.

paulwchambers said...

long haul is good ;)

Awareness said...

it's an eternity clay based thing wouldn't you say?

Charles LeBlanc said...

I wish someone would give me crdit for covering the event???

Sigh...Once an Irving Blogger???

Always an Irving Blogger!!!

:P...:P...:P

Awareness said...

Charles....I righted a wrong! Sorry, I meant to and then was out for the day and forgot. Stay warm! It's crazy outside! The wind woke me up.

Charles LeBlanc said...

You know I was just kidding.....

:P

Awareness said...

i know...! but i did intend to link you. i'm heading out to take photos....miracles of miracles, they shut down my office! we all got a snow day. you taking pics of downtown??

Charles LeBlanc said...

Done and blogged!!!!

Independent Chick said...

I was elated when I saw they won. It is just what they needed I think...what we all needed. Congratulations to them!!!!