UVic Torch -- Fall 2004
Autumn 2004,
Volume 25, Number 2

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Rebounding - Photography by ADRIAN LAM Rebounding
Vikes basketball coach Craig Beaucamp: "One of the first things I told the team was that I wasn't Guy, nor would I be Guy, nor could I be Guy."

Photography by ADRIAN LAM

Craig Beaucamp dreamed about leading a basketball team. But nothing could have prepared him for this.

THE DAY'S SCHEDULE WAS FULL. A morning workout was to be followed by an afternoon practice. The looming basketball season promised to be a special one for Guy Vetrie, entering his 15th season as head coach. Among the rookies battling for playing time was his son, Ryan, a 5-foot-11 guard from the Claremont Spartans whose arrival at the University of Victoria was the culmination of a family dream.

Vetrie was a demanding coach with a reputation for being temperamental if laziness or sloppiness disrupted so much as a drill. His mood was foul after the morning workout. “He was kind of fiery,” said assistant coach Craig Beaucamp. “He was mad at me. He was mad at one of the players who hadn’t showed up.” As they lifted weights at the Ian Stewart Complex, the two talked basketball. It was a language they shared, a topic guaranteed to animate both men, so far apart in age and experience, yet drawn to the obsession that is university hoops. The exertion of hoisting weights eased the tension.

Beaucamp was in his office at St. Andrew’s Regional High School in the school gym, where he was teaching full-time, when the phone rang on the afternoon of September 15 last year. The university’s athletics coordinator was on the line. “He just said that Guy had suffered a heart attack when he was out running. And it was serious. I knew it was serious if they were calling me at school.” Beaucamp raced to the university.

Vetrie had hired him two years earlier. Beaucamp had built a comfortable role for himself at Melfort Collegiate in Saskatchewan, where his men’s and women’s teams reached the final four of their division for nine consecutive seasons. He could have been coach for life, maybe have had a gym named for him someday. But his ambitions were larger than what was on offer at a prairie high school. He quit his job and moved to Vancouver Island, a gamble not all his friends thought wise. Vetrie, in turn, took a chance by hiring the wiry, intense Beaucamp.

Vetrie had endured his share of dreamers and wannabes. The university game was fast, the tempo so rapid some were shocked to realize they could no longer read the pattern of play on the floor. Beaucamp was an obsessive who studied strategies, picked the coach’s brain, learned not to disappoint a boss who expected practices to be run efficiently and with purpose.

On road trips to the Lower Mainland, Vetrie had Beaucamp drive and the two would discuss strategy and tactics. At lunch, they talked basketball. After work, they talked basketball on the telephone. They went on a fishing trip to Tofino, the conversation less about hooks than hook shots. When Vetrie took a leave of absence, Beaucamp was the natural choice to fill in.

Beaucamp’s boyhood passion was soccer, but as he was about to enter Grade 9, his father moved the family to Birch Hills, an isolated town of 1,000 south of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Soccer was foreign. “The only sport anyone knew was hockey,” Beaucamp said. “If you’re in Grade 9 in rural Saskatchewan and you haven’t skated and you haven’t played hockey, you’re not going to be seen as an athlete.” So, he took up basketball.

“I was just a skinny little kid who loved the game,” he said. “I was a tireless worker. I was competitive. Hated to lose.”

In Beaucamp’s junior and senior years, the Birch Hill boys made it as far as the provincial championships. The town rallied around the team.

Rebounding | Rebounding Con't

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