Grade 12 basketball players who will be hanging up their Fatima jerseys include (l-r) Jordan McGrath, Johnny Power, Eugene Conway, Tyler Young and Jay McGrath.
If one listens closely enough at Fatima Academy you can still hear the distant roars of the crowd from the Provincials a few weekends ago. There is also a distinct ringing of grief through the hallways since five members of this year's basketball team will be graduating this year and the past weekend tournament was their last time to play with the Fatima name on their back. The loss of players Tyler Young, Jordan McGrath, Johnny Power, Eugene Conway and Jay McGrath is one recognized by the Fatima Academy community.
The five players leaving are all veterans to the sport of basketball, with their careers beginning early in their school years. In total, there are numerous 'player of the game,' 'athlete' and 'sportsmanship' awards among all five players.
Tyler Young said the highlight of his basketball career was winning the provincials.
"It was definitely our win at provincials. It was our last year, to say it was important to me, to the team, is an understatement," he said, adding it just wasn't the team's teamwork or skill that made Fatima the home of new basketball banners.
"Whenever we play in front of our family and friends, the support just pumps us up and that helps us get those points," said the Grade 12 Fatima student.
Eugene Conway agreed about the support they've seen in their community.
"The fact that it was at our school made it more important and more special. Mostly because it wasn't just for the team, but for the people that supported us."
Their coach, Jeff Ivany, explained his relationship with these young basketball players.
"I've known these players since they have been Grade 5 students. In those years I've formed a special bond with them on and off the court, a bond that will not, and, I think, cannot be replaced."
Eugene Conway said the knowledge he will never again wear a Fatima Royals jersey is a bittersweet one.
"Graduation is coming up, and it's an exciting thing, you know? Growing up and moving on. But I had a lot of good memories in that jersey. I played a lot of good games and had a some good laughs as a Fatima player."
With these students graduating, two new players will have the title of the oldest on the team and the role of leaders for those younger than them. Bradley Power and Stephen Nash look forward to their next basketball season, but at the same time saying good-bye to friends they've played with for many years.
"It's going to be a big change, mostly because we are so used to each other and we've been through the wins and losses of basketball," said Bradley Power.
"Hopefully we can get that next year. It'll definitely be different though, because we're losing players and friends."
Stephen Nash commented on the inevitable leadership role, while citing this year's oldest members as inspiration.
"These five players were true leaders," he stated. "It's going to be tough playing without them. With these guys leaving the team this year, they accomplished something for me, they showed me what it was like to be the oldest on the team and how to be a leader. With me being one of the oldest next year, I'm going to do exactly what they have done."