Northumberland High School basketball players Nolan Fraser and Noah Spaulding threw their arms around each other and danced as they practised singing the chorus of "We Rise Again."
Along with more than 400 other people, including the 150 basketball players participating in this week's Coal Bowl Classic in New Waterford, 14-year-old Fraser and 16-year-old Spaulding were learning the song with the help of the Men of the Deeps choir for a special video being produced for YouTube.
"This is great," said Spaulding, who played in Coal Bowl last year with Northumberland. "We should be a part of the community here because we really are part of the community ... It's a great community. You really feel like you are home when you are here."
Community and teamwork were the inspiration behind the event, which Coal Bowl organizers based on the popular YouTube channel called Choir! Choir! Choir! which is dedicated to turning audiences into muscial groups for an impromptu video.
Breton Education Centre music teacher Stephen Muise addressed the crowd in the school's audio visual room Monday morning before the start of the high school boys basketball tournament. Giving a brief history of New Waterford and Coal Bowl, Muise equated the trust of teammates to the same trust between coal mining "brothers" when they go underground.
"It's coal that created this community and it's the community that created Coal Bowl," he said. "We want you to take the sense of pride you give for your community and put it into this community. This week you are all Cape Bretoners."
Along with the basketball players were teachers and students from BEC and Greenfield Elementary School who sang along with Men of the Deeps — North America's only coal miners choir, who also performed at the start of the event.
Tony Aucoin has been a member of the Men of the Deeps for 23 years and said the choir always jumps at the opportunity to work with youth.
"This is what we like to do — sing with the kids. It also helps them not forget the experience," he said. "We have kids that sang with us 20 years ago and they still come up to us when they see us and talk about it."
Bill MacPherson, a member of the choir for 30 years and the only one from Dominion, said being able to show boys they can sing is another reason the group likes working with schools.
"Most choirs you see there will be 27 girls and three boys," he said. "When the boys see us up there, a group of grown men who were coal miners, it shows them they can do this to ... We really believe in music education and this helps (keep it in the schools)."
Coal Bowl 2020 InstaChoir on YouTube