They were a culturally diverse group without much in the way of financial resources, but the group of kids who formed the 2018-19 Brother Rice Celtics Grade 9 basketball team in St. John’s had a year to remember.
“The camaraderie amongst the group on this team is off the charts,” said coach Geoff Newman. “They love each other. It’s actually going to be sad when the team breaks up next year when a lot of them go to Holy Heart (high school).”
The highlight of the Celtics’ year came in Grand Falls-Windsor, when Brother Rice won the Exploits Valley Invitational tournament.
“One of the advantages we had was that the kids were all-in on basketball. None of them played hockey, so there was no juggling of schedules. I’m amazed at the practice attendance we had.” — Geoff Newman
“That was a big deal for us,” Newman said. “A lot of the kids don’t have the same resources a lot of others do, which makes it harder to do things.
“Over the last three years, we hosted provincial championships from Grades 7-9 which helped pay for the program here — none of the kids paid a nickel — and we raised enough to pay for hotel rooms in Grand Falls.
“The kids loved it, and like I said, it was a big deal.”
Among Newman’s 14 players were one player of Jamaican descent, one from Ethiopia, two from Sudan, one from Nigeria and another from France who was of African descent.
“One of the advantages we had was that the kids were all-in on basketball,” said the coach. “None of them played hockey, so there was no juggling of schedules.
“I’m amazed at the practice attendance we had.”
While some schools had 60 and 70 kids out to practice, Newman had just 14 players try out this fall, and all 14 made the squad.
“The guys love each other,” Newman said, “and you will be hard pressed to find another team that more fun than these kids this year.”