NEW GLASGOW – Anse MacDonald sits comfortable in his court side chair, watching with great interest as the basketball game gets underway.
“Around here they call it my throne,” he jokes.
But with a nickname like the Godfather of Basketball in Pictou County, high reverence for MacDonald and his work is no joke.
This is the third annual Anse MacDonald Invitational Tournament held at the North Nova Educational Centre held on Jan. 4 and 5. Teams from Fall River, Halifax, Lower Sackville, Charlottetown and Dartmouth have descended on New Glasgow to participate.
MacDonald has been involved in basketball in the county for more than 30 years and the invitational has been running since 1984.
“It started at the New Glasgow High and was there until 2003,” he recalled.
There was support for the invitational from parents, teachers, and the students right from the start.
“The games were always crowded,” MacDonald said. “It was standing room only.”
The high school closed in that year to make way for the NNEC and the invitational continued there.
To honour MacDonald, Paul Butler, coach of the North Nova Gryphons named the invitational the Anse MacDonald Invitational Tournament.
“I was embarrassed at first,” said MacDonald when he learned of the renaming. “But I suppose it was validation for the long hours and work. I certainly wasn’t looking for praise.”
MacDonald points to one award in particular as a source of pride. He received the Frank Baldwin Award, given annually to formally recognize a significant builder of the game of basketball in Nova Scotia in 2011.
“It’s like the Academy Awards, the Oscar of Nova Scotia basketball.”
He continues to be active in the sport, helping organize and fundraise when the NNEC hosted provincials in the 2006-07 season.
He regrets that some parents are only involved while their children are in school. MacDonald got involved when his sons Brent and Bruce started playing in 1986, but has stayed long after their departure.
“I don’t think I could have stopped if I tried,” he said. “It’s just too much fun.”
The following is the schedule for today’s games, all at the NNEC gymnasium:
9:00 a.m. Colonel Gray vs. J.L. Ilsley
11:00 a.m. Sackville vs. Prince Andrew
1:00 p.m. 3rd place Highland Ford vs. 3rd place A&W
3:00 p.m. 2nd place Highland Ford vs. 2nd place A&W
5:00 p.m. 1st place Highland Ford vs. 1st place A&W