phone call leads to beautiful basketball relationship
Gibson is one of four students who moved to
Ottawa last summer to study and play basketball
at Life Christian Academy in Orléans. Fred
small private school in Orléans is making a big splash
on the basketball court and it all started with a happenstance
phone call made last April.
Evans runs a basketball program for kids in the Bahamas.
With connections at several institutions in the United
States and Canada, he's able to find places for them to
further their education while pursuing their love of basketball.
researching potential placements last spring, he did a
search for the Life Christian Academy in Hampstead, North
Carolina. As fate would have it, the first site that came
up was the Life Christian Academy in Orléans.
realizing it, Evans called the school and ended up talking
to Life Christian Academy principal Mike Karpishka.
he started talking I realized pretty quick that he called
the wrong number, but I wasn't going to let him off the
phone," says Karpishka, recalling their conversation.
explaining his program, Evans apologized for calling the
wrong number and hung up, but he had already touched off
a spark in Karpishka whose mind was in full gear. Not
long afterwards, he called Evans back and offered him
asked him if wanted to be our new athletic director,"
says Karpishka with a rye smile.
only has the Life Christian Academy never had an athletic
director before, but they never had a basketball team
before. They don't even have a gym. The school is located
in the former Ecole Le Presault building on St. Pierre
Street behind the KFC on St. Joseph Blvd.
Academy has 50 students combined, 20 in elementary school
and 30 in high school.
was hoping to place two students at the Life Christian
Academy in North Carolina. Instead, he accepted Karpishka's
offer and brought four students with him. Two of the kids
live with him in Orléans, the other two kids live with
assistant coach Leah Marte's family in Plantagenet. Their
tuition is paid for through donations from their church
communities in Freeport.
Bahamian foursome made an immediate impact. The helped
the Saints down the St. Matthew Tigers by a point in the
opening game of the Bill Wren Invitational Tournament
and made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing
to the St. Peter Knights.
applied to join the National Capital Secondary School
Athletic Association, but the league had already been
formed and the schedule had been put together. So instead
of playing in the NCSSAA, they've been palying in tournaments.
making the semi-finals in the Bill Wren Tournament, they
won the Ashbury College tournament and finished third
in a tounament in Toronto.
played the Tigers in an exhibition on Tuesday and ended
up beating the odds-on favourites to win the senior boys
'AA' championship on a buzzer beater in double overtime
without their captain and star point guaard Justin Smith
who was nursing an injury.
fewer than 30 students, Life Christian Academy is considered
an 'A' school. There's little doubt that if they were
playing in the NCSSAA, they would win the 'A' chgampionship
and earn the right to represent the National Capital Region
at the OFSAA provincial championships.
the NCSSAA could select them to represent the association
but it is highly unlikely, which is unfortunate for the
three players, including Smith, who will be graduating
and Karpishka have already indicated to the NCSSAA that
they want to join the league next year. Evans plans to
rejig the team with a couple of players from the Bahamas,
and two recruits from Africa who are both over
six and a half feet tall.
the meantime, they have two more tournaments left on the
their schedule and they plan to go on a cross-Canada tour
out to Calgary this summer.
whole thing has been an incredible adventure for the players
who have experieced a number of firsts, including their
first snowstorm and their first Christmas away from home.
coach told us we were coming to Canada, we were all shocked.
Everyone told us it was really cold. I was afraid to come
here," says Smith who recently signed a scholarship
with Union College, a Division II school in Kentucky.
Bahamian Troshant Williams is also being heavily recruited
by several schools in the States, both at the NAIA level
and Division II.
other two players from the Bahamas are Torrez Hepburn
and Donald Gibson. The team is rounded out by three local
kids; Christopher Costance, who is originally from Haiti;
Stephen Brant and Marcus Campos who is originally from
entire exercise has been a win-win-win situation for the
school, the players and Coach Evans who plans to move
his family to Ottawa later this year.
an opportunity for me and for my family, including my
beautiful wife who allowed me to follow my dream,"
Christian Academy in Orléans has been turning
heads on the basketball court this season
thanks to the addition of four players from
the Bahamas and their coach, Ray Evans. Fred
2:30 p.m., Jan. 26)
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