Tessa’s Tournament brings together BC’s best

Purple will be the colour of choice this weekend when some of the top senior girls basketball teams in the province gather in Fleetwood for the annual Tessa Tournament.

The event is held in honour of the memory of former provincial team and Holy Cross Crusaders’ star Tessa Beauchamp, who passed away in 2012 after a long battle with brain cancer.

“It’s bittersweet for me and my family for sure,” said Holy Cross coach Steve Beauchamp, Tessa’s father. “Just today I was running around picking up donations and the support we receive from the community is so great. At the same time, I would rather be doing it for another reason. It’s hard at times for me, but some of the things the (Tessa Beauchamp) Foundation is doing is good to see and it helps to fill some of the void that’s there.”

Tessa’s favourite colour was purple, and many teams at last year’s inaugural event sported purple socks, wrist bands or arm bands in her memory.

“It’s pretty neat to see how some of the teams respond,” Beauchamp said. “The girls from Wellington and Gleneagle and other teams are all doing different things and have planned activities to help. It’s pretty humbling to be honest and it makes it pretty special. One of the traditions we’ve started at the tournament is halfway through the warm-ups, both teams gather together for a pregame group photo. We post those up on website and it’s neat to see. The players are there to battle and compete, but they are also there to support a cause that they’ve embraced.”

The support for the cause extends to community as well. At Fresh Street Farms at Fraser Highway and 160th Street, manager Chris Phillipson has his staff decked out in purple tournament T-shirts and the store will be accepting donations.

“It’s such a treat to see,” Beauchamp said. “The floral area is all decked out in purple and they have the wristbands there. This is a business in the local community where Tessa grew up so to see that support is really special.”

The Tessa Beauchamp Foundation awards $500 scholarships at several tournaments in the Lower Mainland plus a special $1,000 scholarship at the end of the year that is open to every female basketball player in the province. In addition to the scholarship money, the foundation has used it’s resources to fund the construction of a basketball court in Kenya and is currently building a house in the Philippines. Three current players – Michelle Bos, Rachel Beauchamp (Tessa’s younger sister) and Amy Sprangers – will use their spring break this year to travel to the Philippines to help with that project.

It’s said that charity begins at home and Holy Cross has that base covered as well. The school will hold its annual Tessa Charity Day Feb. 21 where students and teachers will get involved in assorted charities and projects in the Fleetwood community. The goal is to have everyone working together to do something to make the community a better place.

Sadly, the date of this year’s charity event would have been Tessa’s 21st birthday.

This weekend’s tournament features some of the best teams in class AA and AAA in the province Holy Cross is currently ranked second in B.C. among class AAA schools. Oak Bay, Riverside, South Kamloops are all ranked among the top 10 while Gleneagle, Fleetwood Park and Burnaby South are knocking on the door. The top tier of class AA teams will be represented by St. Thomas Aquinas, Wellington, Vernon and Sahali.

The tournament is not a conventional event with a championship finale, but instead is intended as a showcase of girls’ basketball in the province. Teams play a fixed schedule with tournament games taking place at Fleetwood Park and Surrey Christian as well as the main event at Holy Cross.

The Crusaders’ schedule has them in their home gym playing South Kamloops at 2:45 p.m. Friday followed by Saturday games against Oak Bay (9 a.m.) and Wellington (1:30 p.m.).