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

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Photography by ADRIAN LAM Continued
Photography by ADRIAN LAM

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.

“It’s obviously 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. Uncomfortable.

“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 less.”

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 36 points.

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.

Rebounding | Rebounding Con't

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