Trip of a lifetime will strengthen team bond

A pair of local Nuu-chah-nulth high school basketball players are among those gearing up for what promises to be an unforgettable tour of Fiji and Australia.
Chelsey McIntosh and Celeste McCarthy are members of the Alberni District Secondary School girls' basketball squad that will embark on the 17-day journey, which begins June 28.
Both McIntosh, 15, and McCarthy, 16, are currently in Grade 10 and have played for the Alberni Armada junior girls' squad the past two seasons.
The trip will feature the 14 players that will be on the Armada senior girls' club (for those in Grades 11 and 12) this coming season.
McIntosh and McCarthy, who are both Tseshaht, are more than just teammates. They are also cousins.
"This is a trip they will always remember," said Brian Laviolette, a district school board employee who organized the tour and one of the eight adults who will accompany the team on its trip.
Laviolette organized similar trips for local squads in 1988 and '90.
This year's trip will commence with a flight out of Vancouver. The first stop is Suva, Fiji, where the Armada will probably play two games during its three-day stay of that exotic island.
The Armada contingent will then fly to Sydney and take a bus into Canberra, where it will be hosted either by a high school team or a local club, while also playing a couple of matches during that stint, lasting two to three days.
The squad will then bus back to Sydney where it will enjoy three days of leisure and sightseeing.
From there, another flight will take the team to Brisbane, where it will play at least one match against members of a high school team that will again serve as hosts.
The final leg of the trip will be in Currumbin, a suburb of Queensland. During this three-day stretch, the Armada will once again play one or two matches.
"The games are important, but not very," Laviolette said. "The idea is not to win. It's to build our skills."
McIntosh said she is unsure of the calibre of play from any of the teams the Armada will face.
"I have no clue," she said. "I have no idea about any kind of ball down there."
To prepare for its tour, members of the Armada will begin practicing next month.
The club's roster features eight players that toiled for the senior club this past season. McIntosh and McCarthy are among the half dozen players making the jump up to the senior ranks.
McIntosh said the thought of the entire trip excites her.
"It's just a good opportunity to go and travel and play," she said.
And she likes the fact she gets to go on the trip with her cousin.
"We'll get to spend so much time together," said McIntosh, who has been playing basketball for three years.
Laviolette believes the Fiji/Australia trip will prove to be beneficial to the Armada for its upcoming season, which doesn't begin until November.
"Sports is a funny thing and there's no way to measure that," he said of the impact the trip will have on the players' camaraderie. "The more togetherness there is and the more that they lean on each other, they are not going to want to let each other down. At the end of the day it can't hurt us. It can only help us."

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