By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Celtics Varsity Basketball team at St. Mary’s School raised $22,300 to go and participate in the New Waterford Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament in New Waterford, N.S. that will be held from February 4-11.
“The Coal Bowl is a national invitational boys high school basketball tournament, and it takes place at Breton Education Centre in New Waterford, Nova Scotia,” said Jeff Bell, head coach of the Celtics. “Basketball has had a long tradition in the town and that tradition was exemplified and recognized during induction ceremonies of the N.S. Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. The tournament is planned so that participating students will not only compete on the basketball court, but will participate in school-sponsored educational, social and cultural activities as well.”
Josh Van Uden is the team’s assistant coach.
Team members, Bell says, will participate in scheduled tours relating to the mining industry. In addition, the tournament week will include the Coal Bowl Dance, Coal Bowl Concert, Banquet and Socials.
“When they are not on the court, or expanding their knowledge about Cape Breton, the Celtics will be participating in food drives and other volunteer activities giving back to the local community of New Waterford,” said Bell.
Bell says that organizing such an opportunity did not come easy and would not have happened if it was not for the support of the parents, St. Mary’s School, and the local community as well as the extra hours put in and organizational efforts of Kristy Bell.
The original amount needed to attend, Bell says, was $17,337 which included airfare, warm-up attire, and tournament fees. With rising costs and an increase in airfare, however, the goal increased to $20,338, Bell says, and the team worked hard over the last year to achieve this goal by volunteering their time and effort for events including serving and cleaning up at weddings, cleaning up after Cornstock 2023 and Taber Cornfest, and participating in ongoing bottle depot donations with the team completing an in-person bottle drive. In addition to that, Bell says, the team canvassed local businesses looking for their support and donations.
With the hard work of the Celtics Team, paired with the amazing support of the local businesses, the Celtics hit their fundraising goal and will be headed to New Waterford in February 2024.
“Having experienced the Coal Bowl Classic personally as a high school athlete, and now being able to attend as a coach, I am excited for the Celtics to endure on this well-rounded experience that offers team growth, individual growth, and overall, an opportunity they will never forget, and if all goes well, a championship banner,” said Bell.