What began as a fun day of basketball and reminiscing 30 years ago has evolved into so much more since.
The Pacers Alumni Tournament will celebrate the milestone anniversary on Saturday at the Ladner high school with an action-packed schedule. It will be followed by a gala later that evening at the Ladner Community Centre.
It’s the longest-running tournament of its kind in the province but what’s even more impressive is what it has produced off the court thanks to the synergy created by generations of DSS graduates and the passion to give back to their hometown.
The Anesto Charles Foundation was formed soon after the former standout player passed away suddenly following a senior men’s game back in 1996. Friends and family formed the foundation to extend his memory and reflect on a player noted for his leadership and thriving on team work.
Fuelled by fundraising from the annual tournament and anniversary galas, it has steadily grown to provide financial assistance for everything from scholarships to helping local teams and community programs.
Pacer alumni have long been actively involved in coaching and other roles with current teams at DSS. It became more formalized four years ago with the formation of the Delta Pacer Basketball Association.
Through the blessing of school administration, the DPBA now oversees the school’s basketball system. Financial support from the Charles Foundation has also been allocated to the program. Even more valuable, however, is the volunteer time being poured into these teams.
The DPBA’s objective is ensuring the overall strength of the program and enriching the high school experience for student athletes — from Grade 8 right up to the senior teams. That goes well beyond the scoreboard at the end of each game.
It’s about creating a positive environment and helping to create a path for players to pursue their goals and becoming positive and contributing young adults.
With the structure in place for both the Anesto Charles Foundation and DPBA, it is essential alumni from various eras to come onboard and get involved. That’s where the organization is also succeeding.
DSS graduates, from the early 2000s particularly, have stepped up in a big way including Donovan Britten who is now overseeing the senior boys team after four years of coaching at the younger levels. He also has a number of recent grads working with him as assistants. Grace Skovgaard has become a valuable volunteer in an administrative role.
Little did longtime DSS athletic director and now retired teacher Jim Lawrence know what he had created would lead to the betterment of his school when he came up with the alumni tournament idea 30 years ago.