Gordon Bell, Reach for the Top

When I went to Gordon Bell I volunteered as a Reach for the Top Coach. Nothing could be done in my first year since the teachers in the Winnipeg School Division were in a labour dispute with management and had withdrawn their services from all extracurricular activities. (It was called "work to rule") In my second year I was made assistant coach to Jerry Cohen. We were scheduled for the first flight, before we had much time to prepare. We lost on either the first or second game. It was all over by October!

The next year Jerry had left GB and I was on my own. When I asked interested students to come out for the RFTT team the ones who showed up were mostly from my Grade 11 Advanced math class. There were a few Grade 10s, but almost no Grade 12s. After a month or so of practice I had to choose the team. Those who made it were Marty Green, Randy Ellis and Bill Leslie from Grade 11 along with Irene Borys from Grade 10. We were the youngest team that year and we almost won the CBWT championship, but were narrowly defeated by River East in the final game. That team is shown in the bottom of those three pictures.

The following year I was given an assistant coach -- Sheila Calof who was one of the French teachers. We were told that teams could have only one repeat player. I had to choose between Randy, Bill, and Marty. (I told Irene that she could be the repeat player the following year when she would be in Grade 12.) Choosing the repeat player was really tough because they were all so good! But during the tryouts Randy scored a few more points than the others, so he was our repeater. I completed the team by choosing Shirley Lowe and Fern Zamick from Grade 12 and Shirley's brother Wayne from Grade 11. One of the older GB teachers -- Theresa Ferguson from the business ed department -- congratulated me on picking a team evenly balanced between boys and girls. I accepted the compliment, but it was not deliberately planned on my part. I had just been going for the strongest players. That is the team that is shown in the top picture here. Standing behind the team is Bill Guest, the television quizmaster. Years later, at SJR, I was to teach his grandson, Will Guest. We did very well that year. We won the CBWT championship, beating River East in what was a very exciting game. But to win the province we had to play Glenboro Collegiate which had won the games hosted by the CBC station in the city of Brandon. As you can see from the score, it was not an exciting game. I felt quite embarrassed. At one point one of our team members -- I think it was Randy -- deliberately gave them some points by answering without pressing the buzzer. That disqualified his answer, and Glenboro then got the points by pressing their buzzer and repeating what Randy had just said. Having won the province, we went on to the nationals which were held in St. John's Newfoundland in July. We were defeated there in the semi-finals.

In my final year at GB (1974-75) I was given two assistant coaches: Sheila Calof and Sandy Wohl from the science department. When it came to choosing a team Irene Borys (who had sat on the sidelines for her Grade 11 year) was our repeater. I completed the team by choosing Gordon DuVal and Stuart Krogh from Grade 12 and Matt Ellis (no relation to Randy) from Grade 11. That was the most successful team of all! It is shown in the middle picture. After winning the province we went to the nationals in Vancouver where we won game after game until we came to final game for the Canadian Championship. There we lost to Queen Elizabeth School in Halifax. It was a very sad day.