A group of young boys and girls waited patiently with basketballs in hand for the ribbon to be cut. It was a perfect day to play on the freshly painted outdoor court, and the anticipation of the kids suggests the new amenity at the Strathroy fairgrounds will get plenty of use.
It was the girls who got the first tip-off at the grand opening of the Vaughan MacPherson Memorial Basketball Court July 9. Carol MacPherson had the honour of cutting the ribbon and throwing up the first tip-off on the court named after her late husband, a long-time coach of the Strathroy Saints through the ‘70s and ‘80s, and teacher at Strathroy District Collegiate.
Andrew Meyer was a force in getting the court built, approaching Strathroy-Caradoc council last August with the idea of using funds given to the municipality in MacPherson’s name for a court that anyone with a ball could have access to fun and exercise.
“It’s one of the best sports in terms of just being able to pick up the ball and go play. There’s no financial barriers to access,” said Meyer when he explained his pitch to council.
Meyer got to know MacPherson through a shared passion of basketball and history. They were members of the local historical society.
Funds were raised over the years to help the basketball team travel to tournaments. Money built up and was in a trust before going to this new court.
Al Campbell was the head coach after MacPherson, and helped the basketball program keep its expectation of high quality learning and effort from both students and the people running it.
“We had opportunities just that a lot of rural communities didn’t have because he was that guy. He was organized and he was connected in the province. He knew all the top coaches in Ontario,” Campbell said of his predecessor who stayed on the sidelines to help out.
MacPherson stayed in the know by attending and often presenting at clinics seminars and other meetings around the province and in the United States, explained Campbell.
He said all this while kids bounced basketballs in the background at the grand opening.
“There’ll be lots of munchkins out here; there’ll be adults out here playing, too,” said Campbell.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner