Falcons Saints rivalry renewed at alumni game
Ashmont’s alumni basketball tournament celebrated more than just 50 years of basketball in Ashmont over the weekend, as Friday afternoon saw a rivalry renewed between the Falcons alumni and graduates of the St. Paul Regional Saints.
Friday’s rivalry match between the Falcons and Saints was a first for the alumni tournament, which happens every three years, and 1995 Ashmont grad Angela Boucher said it was great to hit the court again against some old rivals.
“It was pretty awesome, some of these of these girls I remember playing in high school against,” said Boucher, adding while there has always been a rivalry between the Falcons and Saints, it’s always been played out in good spirits. “There’s always been a good healthy rivalry, but nothing ever mean or anything like that.”
The score was kept off the board to ensure a fun and competitive game throughout, however the home team Falcons largely controlled the game, and ended up coming out on top with a 52-28 victory.
“This is a first for us. Norma (Large) invited us and it was such a good idea,” said St. Paul Regional High School 1989 graduate Sasha Levasseur. “It hasn’t changed. Ashmont has always played with so much intensity, and they were just so hungry and they’re so aggressive. I was telling my girls on the bench that nothing has changed. They still play so aggressive, it’s just so fun to play.”
Graduates from the 1980s to present high school players like St. Paul’s Randi Drummond took to the court in the jam-packed gymnasium at Ashmont Secondary, and Boucher said she hopes to see it happen more often.
“It would be cool to see St. Paul get an alumni tournament together as well, and then maybe we could crisscross,” she said. “I know there are a lot of other girls that could be there.”
Claudine Gladue, a 2008 Ashmont grad now living in Edmonton, said the alumni tournament is her one chance every three years to reunite with old high school friends.
“It’s a reunion. Everyone’s doing their own thing and I live in Edmonton, so I only really get to see one girl on my team maybe,” she said, adding that her fiancée, a fellow 2008 Ashmont grad, was also taking part in the tournament. “My fiancé (Brandon Bull) is playing too, and we’ve been looking forward to it for months now.”
Boucher, who lives just north of St. Albert, said while the basketball is fun, the best part of the alumni tournament is reuniting with those she otherwise may not get the chance to see.
“This is why we have this, because we get to see each other. Besides running into each other, it’s once every three years,” said Boucher. “It’s just nice to keep the dream alive. Once a Falcon, always a Falcon.”
Basketball players for Ashmont Secondary School spanning generations proved their motto, “Once a Falcon, always a Falcon” this past weekend.
Twenty nine years of alumni teams came together to play again, for old time’s sake on April 18 and 19, as the school hosted its alumni basketball tournament featuring basketball players from a number of generations and teams who attended school in Ashmont.
“It’s been a tremendous couple of days. There’s been an outstanding turnout of alumni,” said Bobbie Jeffery, a participating alumnus.
“Some people came from as far away as Montreal, and all over the province, to be here. It only happens every three years. There’s definitely a strong spirit in this area when it comes to basketball,” said Jeffery.
She added, “We’re basketball-driven and this is where the heart is. That goes for every generation that goes through these doors. The basketball spirit is alive and well in Ashmont.”
The tournament was a fundraiser for Ashmont School’s athletics program, and featured classes from different generations playing each other in games on Friday and Saturday. The event also featured a special game between the Ashmont Falcons and a St. Paul Saints alumni teams. In addition to the games, there was a jamboree held on Friday at the Ashmont Agriplex.
Organizers estimate the total funds raised, at all the events on the weekend to be around $10,000.
Teams participating in the tournament included the Ashmont Falcons teams for both men and women that ranged from as far back as 1967 when the first Falcons men team was established, up to current high school athletes.
The winners of the tournament for the men’s tournament were the 1999-2001 Falcons, who edged out the 2010-2013 Falcons, while the winners of the women’s tournament were the 2005-2008 Falcons beating the high school team.
On Saturday afternoon, there was a skills competition, which offered people the challenge of shooting five shots from different spots on the floor around the net, in the shortest amount of time.
Jeffery described the event “like a family reunion,” adding, “Many people have brothers, and sisters, and kids playing here, and it’s wonderful to see the kids playing. Both of my sons are playing here today, and it’s big to see this happening.”
Jeffery said there was a lot of work involved in creating such a tradition, with the tournament being held every three years.
“It’s an incredible family event, and sets the tone for future generations. A lot of heart goes into it, and we’ve had a lot of past coaches in attendance, sitting on the bench with their old teams,” said Jeffery.
Lyndon Suntjens, this year’s organizer of the tournament and also a teacher and coach at Ashmont Secondary, said this year’s event was enjoyed by many.
“I think it’s been the best alumni games yet. We’ve had the biggest numbers, and heard nothing but positive comments the whole time. It’s a real blessing when old teachers come back and play and say it’s great,” he said, adding, “We’re keeping the basketball and alumni tradition alive. I’d like to thank everyone who came out, especially the people who travelled long-distance. I also want to thank everyone who helped out and all the little things people did to make it happen.”