INSTANT REPLAY: Bye Bye Balmoral
Long live the Barons. Hail to the Black and Orange. Balmoral, we will miss you.
If you ever had a connection to Balmoral junior secondary, mark Friday, June 8 on the calendar. It will be your time to remember the good old days. A keen committee headed by art teacher Teresa Anton-Marlowe is putting together a memory-lane of fun stuff you won’t want to miss.
The gym will be decked out from 5-7 p.m. with historical displays and intriguing art forms called installations that will invoke treasured memories, going all the way back to when the school opened in 1959.
Then, in the time-honoured tradition of “unauthorized” after-grad parties, the Capilano Rugby Club (a couple of blocks west of Curling and Capilano roads) will host a reception starting at 8 p.m. for a nominal $5 entry fee payable at the door. All former teachers, coaches and students are welcome, if you are 19+ of course.
That’s probably when the ghosts of the likes of coaches Bob Payne, Wally Russell, Bill O’Neill, Kevin Davies, Peter Therrien, Doug Green, Troy Burtt, Olive Gilmour, Nicky Carroll and others – all long gone from the home of the Barons but in most cases still living among us – will appear to see a few more recent longtime Balmoralites get honoured.
One can’t-miss feature at the school will be the opportunity to tour the physical education office where longtime teacher-coach and former 1960s student Bruce Bourdon began posting photos on the walls in 1980. If you ever played for Balmoral, chances are there is a picture of you or some teammates among the gazillion images found there.
Old trophies have their place and vintage uniforms hang from the ceiling. It is virtually a one-room museum. Some old uniforms will be auctioned off. And Bourdon promises a trivia contest with some historical item as a prize.
RECOGNIZE ANYONE? – This mid-1980s Balmoral basketball team almost staged a revolt when they found out what their already-purchased new shorts looked like. It wasn’t how short they were, which was the style then, it was the unconventional design. (That’s B.C. Lions’ great, Sean Millington, front row right.)
Balmoral Athletics collection
When the Balmoral Barons captured the 2012 North Shore high school junior boys’ rugby championship by a score of 18-12 over Collingwood on May 15, it marked a fitting finale to the outstanding rugger accomplishments of the little North Van junior secondary.
Okay, so technically the trophy was won by Carson Graham (North Campus). You see, someone probably thought it was necessary to rename the building to placate those among the student body who missed out on attending their Grade 8-10 years at the real Carson Graham below the highway and had to bus it up the hill to complete their junior high grades while the big school was being rebuilt.
But the large sign out front still says Balmoral secondary school and some of the present junior rugby players came up with the enterprising team nickname of Beagles to acknowledge the amalgamation of Balmoral’s Barons and Carson Graham’s Eagles back when they were bantams in Grade 8.
Over the school’s 53 years as the North Shore’s longest-surviving junior secondary, the school won 47 North Shore Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association boys’ rugby championships, including the one as CG North last week: 15 bantam (Grade 8), 19 juvenile (Grade 9) and 13 junior (Grade 10). More often than not, a North Shore championship was followed by a Vancouver & District championship as well.
Of the 12 other schools which have hoisted at least one NS rugby trophy, none have won even as many as 20. There were bantam championship streaks of six years straight for Balmoral in the 1960s and four consecutive in the late ’90s; nine juvenile championships in a row in the ’60s to early ’70s and five in the first half of the ’90s; along with eight straight junior wins in the ’90s.
A good portion of Carson Graham’s success provincially at the senior level is due to those whose introduction to the sport came at Balmoral. That includes the following who have represented Canada at one time or another as players with the national senior, under-21, U-20 or U-19 teams (or even as coaches in the case of Tim Murdy and Rod Holloway, Balmoral’s outstanding student of 1961): Chuck Anderson, Andrea Burk, Chris Burk, John Granander, Kevin Guidi, Ron Johnstone, Tom Larisch, Kelly McCallum, Mike McDonald, Craig McLaren, Garth Prouse, Tony Scott, Erika Shand, Matt Yanagiya, Brandon Van Euwen and Aaron Vani.
While there have been few Balmoral rugby championships since 2000, the void has been filled most notably (beginning in 1998) by five of the school’s 10 all-time NS junior girls’ field hockey titles and a dominating nine girls’ and five boys’ wrestling team championships. Despite the school’s obvious limitations with no Grade 11-12 students, the girls were first in the team standings at the B.C. high school wrestling championships in 2007 and the boys finished as high as fourth in 1997.
A number of the field hockey elite have gone on to play at universities across North America: Amanda Bird, Johanna Bischof, Brooke MacGillivray (co-outstanding student of 2004), Stephanie Madsen, Maggie Rebalski, Holly Stewart and Emma Watt.
Wrestling guru and Balmoral coach Ian McDonald was a driving force in getting girls’ wrestling programs started in B.C. schools. He attended Hamilton and Carson Graham as a student, began teaching at Balmoral in 1985 and lives just a quick over-and-under lateral drop to a pin from the school.
Notable wrestlers who got their start at Balmoral include Taka Akiyama, sisters Kiki (the outstanding student in 2006), Michiko and Hiroko Araki, Ellen Ashdown, Lauren Boggio, Amir Ghareman, Justin Kapil, Angela Lacy, Chris Lim, Mike and Patrick McDonald, Kristen McFee, Ashley McKilligan, Susan Mehain, Jim Miller, Mike Miller, Jenna Robinson, Shannon Samler, Katie Taylor, Emma Watt, Cassandra Wild, Matt Yanagiya and Audrey Yap.
Some from other sports should be noted too, such as European pro basketball player Joanna Smith, Kurt Chapman of the 1984-86 Edmonton Eskimos and two-time Olympic water polo star Susan Gardiner.
Plus a couple of guys you may have heard of named Sean Millington and Brett Hull.
This is episode 461 from Len Corben’s treasure chest of stories – the great events and the quirky – that bring to life the North Shore’s rich sports history.