Crusaders With a Cause, Holy Cross Girls Hoops Aims to Win Big, and Make a Big Difference Feb 5, 2014 - By Howard Tsumura - The Province
They have played basketball together since their elementary school days, leaning on each other through the tough times, and celebrating together the triumphs that come when you take the good with the bad, day after day.
And if you ask Holy Cross Secondary senior girls head coach Steve Beauchamp what that daily process of working together to become a team has ultimately come to represent, he won’t hesitate for a second.
To him, his Crusaders have built a foundation that today makes them a true family.
And when Beauchamp tells you that later this year, four members of his team - Rachel Beauchamp, Amy Sprangers, Michelle Bos and Rebecca Waithe - will accompany a mission group from the Surrey school to help build a house in an underprivileged area of Manila, in The Philippines, well, the sound of hammers striking nails takes on a lyrical tone.
“For sure, there is some very neat symbolism there,” explains Beauchamp. “But really, all of our girls have been together for so long that they just trust each other. But after (high school) they are all going their separate ways. They won’t be teammates any longer. Yet the neat thing is, they still have a strong sense of who they are, and their relationships and their goals just mean so much to them.”
But the mission is also connected to the Holy Cross community in another way, one which touches close to home for both Steve, and his daughter Rachel.
The house being built in Manila will be named after Tessa Beauchamp, Steve’s daughter and Rachel’s older sister, who battled cancer throughout her high school playing career at the Surrey school, before losing the fight in January of 2012.
Tessa herself, was sorely disappointed when, in her Grade 11 year at Holy Cross, the school’s mission trip to the Philippines, was cancelled. But now, the foundation which bears her name, has donated $3,000 towards the construction of the house.
“Helping fund the building of the house is exactly what Tessa would have wanted,” her dad says.
So is everything else the Crusaders have been about since her passing.
Last season, the team won the B.C. Double A championship title in dominating fashion. Over the offseason, they elected to play up at the highest Triple A tier, and they currently sit at No. 2 in the rankings, with a near-perfect 29-2 record.
Beginning Friday, Holy Cross plays host to its second-annual Tessa’s Tournament, featuring top Triple and Double A senior varsity girls teams, as well as top junior teams. Ranked Triple teams joining the Crusaders are No. 3 Riverside of PoCo, No. 6 Oak Bay of Victoria, No. 8 South Kamloops and No. 10 Burnaby South.
The event even affords its competitors and fans a chance to help the cause. Used basketball shoes and basketball will be collected, and they will accompany the mission team to The Philippines.
As well, on Feb. 21, the second annual Tessa Beauchamp Charity Day will be held, where students and staff are encouraged to don purple, Tessa’s favourite colour, and raise money for charities of their choice.
“We ask that you do whatever you want to fund raise, or make a difference in your local community,” Steve Beauchamp says. “Clean a street, plant a tree, help at a seniors homes. And the monies raised goes to whatever charity you decide.
"The support we have gotten in the Fleetwood community is extremely humbling,” he continues, pointing out that a new local grocery store, Fresh St. Farms, has jumped in head first, its entire staff wearing purple Tessa t-shirts, and are accepting charitable donations for like-coloured bracelets.
It’s stuff like that which tells you that a team of kids can become a part of their community.
And in more ways than one, these Crusaders will be going their separate ways come graduation.
Beauchamp estimates that five of his seniors - including B.C. Double A MVP Michelle Bos (Thompson Rivers) and Amy Sprangers (Victoria) - will play post-secondary basketball at either CIS-, NCAA- or CCAA-level teams next season. And by the time all of his current players graduate, that number could be seven or higher.
“It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime scenario,” he says with a chuckle. “They came together so long ago, and it was one of those things where everything aligned.”
Indeed, all teams eventually go their separate ways.
But there is one place they might scheme to meet, say, for their 10-year team re-union. Through the generosity of donors to the foundation, there is now a basketball court in the Kenyan town of Ndanai. It’s called Tessa’s Court, and it sounds like the perfect place to shoot some hoops and talk about the good, old days.