Tessa's tournament comes to New West

Since it began seven years ago, the Tessa’s Tournament has grown and expanded like the positive force of the person it honours.

Now, the Surrey-based girls basketball tourney is crossing the Fraser River into New Westminster.

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Having reached full capacity for teams at five Surrey gyms, the Feb. 1 and 2 event is coming north to Douglas College, where Tessa’s father, Steve Beauchamp, coaches the women’s PacWest team.

It means the tourney, which includes divisions for Grade 8, junior and senior levels, is now 44 teams strong after starting with four teams in its inaugural run.

“It’s grown every year, but we’ve been limited by available gym space, honestly,” said Beauchamp, who helps oversee the event. “We got interest from everywhere (in B.C.), so it seemed bringing it to Douglas (College) was a good fit.”

Holy Cross Regional Secondary in Surrey has been the home base, where Tessa played, learned and gave so much to so many. It’s in her honour, and as a means to celebrate her passion for her sporting community, that the tournament was created. She died in 2012 at the age of 18 after a nearly four-year-long battle with cancer.

In her memory, the giving has continued to the tune of $13,000 in scholarships last year alone, to students and athletes heading to post-secondary studies. Last week at the B.C. Catholic basketball championships, the Tessa Foundation presented a scholarship award to St. Thomas More’s Matteo Mauro.

The awards benefit students and athletes from around the province, as well local and international charities.

The foundation will present four $1,000 scholarship awards to four graduating athletes at the event, while each site will welcome donations of both cash and gently worn or like-new sports uniforms, jerseys and shorts that will be given to children in the Philippines. Admission for fans is by donation, with all funds raised going to the foundation.

The proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ would apply to benevolent events such as this. Sponsors, organizations, players, coaches and an army of volunteers come together to put it on.

Beauchamp said the basketball side of things has been extremely successful as well, being the last tournament before league playoffs are launched in early February.

“What makes it unique is that it’s a celebration of basketball, where we design it so that teams get games that have meaning, with real implications to the matchups in terms of future rankings,” he said.

How badly do teams want to be in it? Programs from as far as Smithers, Vernon and Summerland will brave the winter road conditions for a last-gasp prep opportunity, when most teams stick close to home. Ninteen senior teams, 16 junior and nine Grade 8 programs are signed up this year.

On Feb. 1, the action begins at Holy Cross, Fleetwood Park, Surrey Christian middle and senior gyms, and St. Matthews’ gym.

The Douglas College portion will feature the junior girls division, starting 9 a.m. Feb. 2 with Burnaby South playing Holy Cross. Here’s the rest of the New West campus schedule: 9 a.m., Pt. Grey v St. John Brebeuf; 10:30 am, Sahali v Riverside, Notre Dame v Vernon; noon Summerland v Yale, Argyle v Fraser Heights; 1:30 p.m., St. Pats v St. Thomas Aquinas; 3 p.m., Holy Cross v Sahali, St. John Brebeuf v Notre Dame; 4:30 p.m., Yale v Argyle, Fraser Heights v Burnaby South; 6 p.m., Fleetwood Park v St. Pats, St. Thomas Aquinas v Heritage Woods.

To find out more, visit tessabeauchamp.org.

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