KAMLOOPS — It’s a staple of the sports landscape over the holidays in Kamloops: the Fulton and Company Cup basketball tournament pits the best basketball talent from the secondary schools throughout the city against one another to determine which team is tops. This year marks the 20th year the tournament has been held in the city, and while the venue and the name of the event have changed, it’s still a big deal for the teams and players who take part every year.
For the 20th straight year, the Fulton and Company Cup gets underway on Wednesday in Kamloops, featuring 24 local high school basketball teams — six teams each in Jr and Sr Girls and Boys — all vying for the bragging rights that come with winning this unofficial city championship.
“You get to see some of these kids… and teams that high profile at the provincial level,” tournament organizer Will Blair told CFJC Today.
There will certainly be some strong competition among the teams attending the event this year. On the Sr. Boy’s side, the Westsyde Whundas are currently #2 in the ‘AA’ provincial rankings, while Barriere Cougars have climbed into the ‘A’ top-ten, at #8. On the Sr. Girl’s side, the South Kamloops Titans are the top-ranked team in the province in ‘AA’, while Valleyview and South Kam are both teams to watch in the Jr. Girl’s competition.
Not only is the tournament a great tradition, it’s a great place for players to showcase their skills, and judging by some Fulton and Company Cup alumni who’ve gone on to play a higher level of hoops, it’s a great place to get noticed.
“Joe Davis, who’s currently at TRU here playing, Emma Piggin who’s currently playing for TRU,” Blair said. “A lot of kids have gone from the stage at the Fulton and Company Cup and have moved on to higher education.”
One of the athletes who is hoping to make a good impression on any coaches watching the event is Tyler Schilling, who plays for the Barriere Cougars.
“The dream for we would be college ball,” Schilling said. “Most of these guys on the Double-A teams and Triple-A teams are my competition. Seeing how good they are their teams just pushes me every day to be better and hopefully achieve my goal.”
Another benefit to the student-athletes who take part in the tournament is the potential for financial support for their post-secondary education. Title sponsor Fulton and Company has awarded $65,000 in bursaries since the tournament started.
“They’ve provided me with so many scholarship opportunities,” Sarah King, Sahali Sabres Grade 12 athlete said. “Just this year I’ve received a September influencer scholarship, which is a new thing that they’ve done.”
One of the unique aspects of the tournament is that it isn’t dependant on the classifications that usually determine which schools play each other.
Jessica Vliegenthart played in the tournament back when she attended Kam High.
“To be able to have a full-on city-wide tournament that [doesn’t] depend on entry rankings or anything, “ she said. “It’s really cool to play teams you don’t normally get to play, and also to compete against all your peers. I still have memories of playing in it when I was 16 and 17.”
Vliegenthart is now a lawyer with Fulton and Company, and is proud to be able to give back to the tournament and appreciates all the hard work that goes into keeping the Fulton and Co. Cup going strong.
“I would have been one of the first, ‘cause I think I played thee years,” Vliegenthart said. “I would have been one of the very first classes to go through it. What an amazing job for the people to keep it going, it’s a lot of work, so good on them.”
The Fulton and Company Cup kicks off on Wednesday afternoon at the TCC, with the hardware being handed out on Friday night.
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