The holiday spirit of giving was front and centre when six former Comox Valley high school basketball stalwarts got together Dec. 23 for a basketball clinic at Georges P. Vanier Secondary School.
The clinic was for high school students all over the Island and players came from as far as Port Alberni for this special event.
The reason the clinic was so important was because of who was running it. The combined talents of Ryan MacKinnon, Scott MacKinnon, Brandon Ellis, Kali Ellis, Keenan Milburn and Calvin Westbrook made the event a big success.
The idea for the clinic originated when Scott MacKinnon contacted Vanier junior boys’ basketball coach Tony Edwards and told him he was interested in setting something up while everyone was home for the holidays. Edwards then contacted coaches all over the Island and the event snowballed from there.
Initially, it was just the two MacKinnon brothers, Ellis and Westbrook, but after the word got out, two more were eager to join them.
All of the volunteer coaches have had full-ride scholarships for basketball. Brandon Ellis has played professionally in Germany and Vancouver, and Scott MacKinnon has played professionally in the Philippines.
Westbrook is at Trinity Western University in Langley. His team goal is to make it to the national championships and hopefully play professionally overseas when school is finished.
Ryan MacKinnon has been playing at the University of Victoria and is currently in his fourth year in the education program. Once finished school, if the opportunity arises, he would love to play professionally, but if not, he hopes to travel the world and coach while doing so.
Brandon Ellis has retired from playing basketball due to an ankle injury but is currently an executive director of the non-profit organization called I-Ball.
Scott MacKinnon spent five years at the University of Lethbridge and is currently coaching at Queens University in Kingston, Ont.
Kali Ellis played for four years at Thompson Rivers University, and once school is finished, she wants to come back to the Island to coach.
Milburn is currently playing at the University of Calgary on a scholarship and is in his fourth year of business. He has recently reached all of his basketball goals and hasn’t had a chance to set new ones, but he would love to coach in Calgary after his schooling is finished.
The clinic cost each of the students $20, and there were over 30 participants. The majority of the proceeds were donated to the Comox Valley Food Bank, and a small portion went to the Comox Valley Youth Basketball Association.
Tom Brown, vice-president of the food bank, accepted the donation and said he was very impressed with the turnout and wanted to thank the coaches for their time and effort.