Beaucamp completed a diploma in recreation technology
at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied
Science and Technology, where he was named
male athlete of the year. After graduation,
he was hired as recreational director in
Outlook, a town which boasts Canada’s
longest pedestrian bridge. He also became
volunteer coach of the high school’s
Outlook Blues, leaving after three years
to complete a teaching degree at the University
of Saskatchewan. The basketball Huskies were
a dream beyond the reach of his own modest
skill. “I was never quite good enough,” he
said. The Huskies had long been moribund
until an intense coach by the name of Guy
Vetrie had revived the program in the 1980s
before coming to Victoria.
Beaucamp left Melfort in the
summer of 2001. He met Vetrie at the Cordova
Bay Golf Course, where the coach’s wife
Lil worked. The coach had been through many assistants
over the years. Beaucamp remembers Vetrie telling
him: “We’ll see how things go. The
bottom line is the success of the team.” Beaucamp
understood. The team came first, the needs of
an ambitious assistant somewhere after that.
The new hire thought it fair, and respected his
new boss’s commitment to the Vikes.
Two years later, as he hurried
into an office at the campus gym, he could read
the bad news on the faces of his colleagues.
A man goes out for a jog one
afternoon three days before his 52nd birthday
and does not return. In that simple, stark fact,
the world changed for so many. A wife lost a
husband, a son and daughter lost a father, a
team lost a coach. An assistant lost his boss.
With the suddenness of a referee’s whistle,
a mentor and friend was gone. A basketball schedule
loomed. There was so much to do. Beaucamp barely
knew where to start. He would find the answer
by imagining what Guy Vetrie would have done.
Death brings ritual and duty.
Beaucamp was asked to fetch Ryan at computer
class, while others tried to reach Lil. He’d
never had to break such news before. “There’s
no good way to say something like that,” he
said. “Obviously, Ryan was quite upset.
That was that.”
Counsellors were available
the next day. Practice was cancelled for a week.
After a few days, the gym was opened. Some wanted
to play, some did not. The first practice went
well, the second one less so. Some players tried
hard, some players didn’t. Some were moody.
Beaucamp was named interim
coach. He moved into the coach’s office,
but could not bring himself to sit behind the
desk. Instead, he sat in a chair along one of
the cinderblock walls. He felt like an interloper.
He had achieved the goal for which he had risked
everything years earlier by leaving Saskatchewan,
only there was no celebration, no sense of accomplishment.
He had a vague feeling of guilt.
something I dreamed about forever, but at the
same time you’re suffering the loss of
a friend. It was...” Beaucamp searched
for a word. “Weird.” He had second
thoughts. “I don’t know if that’s
the way to put it.” He paused again. “Awkward.
“I had so much respect
for Guy. I think 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.”
The team pulled together in
their grief. An emotional memorial to their late
coach at McKinnon Gym was cathartic. On display
was a large photograph of Vetrie—as shaggy
as an extra from Starsky & Hutch—from
his playing days at Laurentian University in
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. He wore uniform number
14 in the swinging ’70s, so the time clock
had been set to 14:14. His 530 career coaching
victories were cited, as was his triumph in leading
the Vikes to a national championship in 1997.
The memorial attracted hundreds.
Beaucamp had little time to
mourn. “As much as everybody feels for
our team, when we go out on the court they’re
going to try to beat the daylights out of us,” he
said. “We got a game. We still have to
go out on the floor. We still have to prepare.
We still have to work hard.” He had to
make decisions about strategy and personnel.
Foremost among those was a grieving rookie. “I
know Guy looked forward to coaching Ryan and
Ryan looked forward to being coached by his father.
I wasn’t supposed to be in that equation.”
The pre-season opened with
two losses, but a surprising victory over the
taller, stronger, more experienced Bluejays from
Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska seemed
to prove to the Vikes they had the chops. Fans
gave them a standing ovation at the final whistle
of the 80-72 exhibition upset.
The routine of practices and
games settled the team. “Guy’s passion
was the Vikes,” Beaucamp said. “He
would want us—after we paid our respects—to
move forward. He would have expected nothing
Conference play started with
a narrow loss to the University of British Columbia.
The Vikes then rolled off a six-game winning
streak, including a thrilling 109-105 overtime
win at Regina, with guard Chris Trumpy recording
Beaucamp remembers a changed
attitude. “Within a short period of time
the questions changed from ‘How’s
the team?’ and ‘How are things?’ to ‘How
come you guys lost last night?’”
A post-Christmas tournament,
renamed the Guy Vetrie Memorial, saw the Vikes
win two of three. The team ended the season at
11-9, missing out on the playoffs only on a tiebreaker.
A consolation for Beaucamp was being named conference
coach of the year, an honour won by his mentor
six times. In April, the word interim was removed
from his title.
“Guy was the reason I
was able to do what I did,” Beaucamp said. “Guy
put me in a position where I felt prepared when
the opportunity arose.”
He now sits behind the desk
in office No. 186 at McKinnon, a sign on the
door reading, “If you have to duck, don’t
bother to knock.” He now feels he belongs
The rookie guard who had
to cope with the sudden loss of his father enjoyed
his best game in an early two-point loss to Waterloo. “I
had five steals, a couple of points, some assists,” Ryan
Vetrie said. As the season progressed, though,
he found his playing time reduced. “My confidence
got shattered. I didn’t even have the nerve
to shoot the ball sometime.” Basketball had
lost the meaning it once held. Every practice,
every drill, every game had been performed with
his father as teacher and cheerleader. “When
he went, my feeling was, ‘Who am I playing
for now?’” He is taking a break from
school and the court for a season, a hiatus he
hopes will allow him to regain his desire to play
the game at so high a level.