William E. Hay goes round the clock for kids

William E. Hay Composite High School students, teachers and alumni collaborated on the weekend for a 24-hour charity basketball game.

Will Roberts (left)

Will Roberts (left)

William E. Hay Composite High School students, teachers and alumni collaborated on the weekend for a 24-hour charity basketball game.

The student-led fundraiser for KidSport began after school Friday and lasted through 3 p.m. Saturday in the school gym — and netted about $2,700.

Two Grade 9 students — junior varsity basketball teammates Jordan Lane and Alex Leblanc — went the extra mile and remained at the school for the full 24 hours. Along with their friends and teammates, they camped out between on-court sessions.

“At first, I thought I was just going to come out for a couple of hours and play with some of my friends from Grade 9, but they convinced me to stay a little longer,” Leblanc said Saturday. “A lot longer, actually, because I stayed for the whole 24 hours.

“It was pretty fun. A good time. I guess I never stayed overnight in school before. Usually, you wouldn’t want to spend your Saturday at school, but it was a lot of fun.”

Leblanc credited Lane for suggesting early Saturday morning that they become gym rats for the duration.

“I tried to sleep here (in the gym) for a little bit, but couldn’t fall asleep, so I went into one of the teacher’s rooms and she had a couch in there, so I just slept on the couch for a little bit,” Leblanc recounted after the final buzzer. “I guess I had an hour nap and then came out and played more basketball.

“When I woke up, most of my friends had gone home, and I asked Jordan if we were going to leave, but he said, ‘No, we might as well just stay for the whole thing if we were already here for this long.’ ”

With the competitive basketball season finishing a week earlier, Lane jumped at the opportunity to play more hoops.

“I didn’t really have anything else to do, and I was, like, ‘Hey, this looks like fun,’ ” he said.

“I wasn’t planning on playing 24 hours, but I was, like, ‘I don’t want to go home now.’ And that happened every two-hour shift.

“You played two hours, and then a new game would start as more people came. At one point, we had a five-on-five game where one team got up to 180 points.”

Lane, 14, managed to squeeze in a few hours of sleep in a makeshift bed.

“I built a fort out of the mats,” he said. “Me and (Grade 10 student) Kyle Poapst built a fort and we slept in there. I got a two-hour nap, so it was pretty good. That was around 4 o’clock in the morning.

“We woke up and I saw they were playing basketball, so I was, like, ‘I’ll see if I can get in the game,’ because this is the last basketball I have (this season), actual competition.”

Lane planned to rest Saturday night before heading to Edmonton on Sunday for a Battle River Shock midget football practice.

Leblanc also banked on an extended makeup sleep overnight Saturday.

“Oh, hopefully, a really good long sleep, maybe sleep in a little bit (Sunday) morning,” he said with a smile.

Nick Baharally, a senior varsity player and one of the charity game organizers, watched with gratitude Saturday afternoon as Lane and Leblanc completed their marathon effort.

“Some of them didn’t leave the gym, or the school, at all, which was pretty impressive,” Baharally said. “We didn’t really expect that from anyone, but it’s awesome that they came and they stayed.”

Baharally reported that 41 students, teachers and Wildcat alumni participated in the inaugural event.

“That’s pretty good, to get 41 people to commit to coming out all sorts of hours of the day, it was good to see,” he said. “Some of them gave their whole weekend.”

Baharally and fellow student organizer Brooke Torgerson are part of the school’s athletic board, which staged the fundraiser.

“We decided we wanted to do something to give back to the community, and the idea of a 24-hour basketball game came up,” said Torgerson, a member of the senior girls’ varsity team.

“So then we had to decide who we wanted to give the money, from the proceeds. We bounced back and forth (in considering) a few groups. At first, we thought FCSS, but then we decided something more sportrelated would be better, so we approached KidSport and went about it that way.

“I think about $2,700 was raised, so that surpassed our goal of $2,000.”

Baharally and Torgerson graduate this year, but they hope other students and teachers will pick up the ball and continue the fundraiser next year.

“It was nice to see that people participated as much as they did and that we had that big of a turnout for our first year of doing it — in a long time, anyway,” Torgerson said.

“We had a lot of teacher support behind us, too, which was nice. When we first approached teachers, they were all for it.”

At least half-a-dozen teachers participated in the game. Among them was junior varsity basketball coach Adam McRae, who played for more than 10 hours in two sessions Friday and another Saturday.

He said the event was not only a worthy fundraiser, but also helpful for relations between teachers and students.

“They get to see us in a different light, maybe, kind of us without our teacher hat on,” McRae said.

“We try, anyway, with our TA program to get to know them individually, but that’s kind of us getting to know them. I think they get a better chance to get to know us in this scenario, for better or worse maybe (smiles). Perhaps we’re a little too competitive, sometimes.”

McRae commended the students, including Baharally and Torgerson, for showing leadership in organizing the charity game.

“I think it was student-led, for the most part,” he said. “I kind of ran with it a little bit, from the staff perspective, because I love basketball, but they were the ones pushing it the whole way.”

Baharally appreciated that even teachers from outside the school’s athletic department supported the cause, as did alumni.

“From 9 to 11 on Friday night, we had a lot of the Wildcat alumni come from the men’s league, so that was some good basketball,” said Baharally, who played for six hours himself over three two-hour sessions.

“It was good that the teachers were supportive of it and wanted to come out. Teachers, too, that don’t even really have anything to do with athletics in our school were here at 5 o’clock in the morning, 3 o’clock in the morning, which was nice to see.”

In similar fashion, students who don’t play with school basketball teams also participated in the game.

Will Roberts, a Grade 10 student who represented William E. Hay at the high school archery provincials Friday in Edmonton, was on the basketball court for the countdown Saturday.

“I got here around 11 (a.m.) and played the last four hours,” said Roberts, 15. “It felt pretty good. All the other guys were pretty tired, but what can I expect — they’ve been here for 24 hours.”

Roberts, who also plays hockey, volleyball and soccer, said he was happy to support KidSport and would like to participate in such a fundraiser in future years.

“Yeah, definitely, I’d like to do it again,” he said. “I’d try to stay for the whole 24 hours next time.”