When the west-side Vancouver high school went through such trouble finding a replacement for its outgoing coach that it might not have a season, two parents agreed to share bench-boss duties.Two weeks prior to the start of the girls basketball season, the Lord Byng Grey Ghosts didn’t have a coach.Four days before the close of campaign, they’re one of 16 Triple A teams still standing.Chris Bromige and Jennifer Mackay have limited basketball experience, dating back to their own high school days. They also both have a daughter on the team, so when it became apparent that the Grey Ghosts were having enough trouble finding a replacement for outgoing coach Tessa Valg that they might not have a season, they both agreed to share bench-boss duties.Along the way, Lord Byng athletic director Kevin Sandher had neatly stalled just enough to keep the team in a small handful of invitational tournaments to help fill out its schedule.It’s been quite the ride. Lord Byng lost 79-49 to the Killarney Cougars on Jan. 28. On Feb. 5, it beat Killarney 87-36 in the Vancouver playoffs, and, two Saturdays ago, beat Killarney 64-48 to nab the third and final direct berth to the provincial championship out of the Lower Mainland zone.The Grey Ghosts are proof positive why extracurricular activities in general and sports in particular can help teach life skills. Lord Byng is the No. 15 seed at provincials; it will be hard pressed to finish in the top half of teams at the LEC. You can’t tell me, though, that there were not lessons on perseverance and tenacity at hand for the team this year. You can’t tell me that the club system, which is tied so much to dollars, offers the same avenues for that.
Lord Byng Grey Ghosts senior girls basketball coaches Jennifer Mackay (front left) and Chris Bromige (right) with their team, which is headed to B.C. Triple A girls basketball championship at Langley Events Centre.
RICHARD LAM /
“These girls have been taught the offence so well by Tessa, and she and I know still don’t know it fully,” Bromige said, pointing at Mackay. “If one of us turns to the other and says ‘Why didn’t that work?’, we will both kind of shrug and then we’ll ask one of the girls and she’ll explain that someone missed setting a pick or whatever it was.”Mackay added: “We’re not their first choice, but they like that we stepped up.”Sandher contends there might be some underselling going there. He talks up how calm and composed Bromige and Mackay are in crucial moments.“I’ve looked at it a number of times in the past few weeks and thought that it’s something that I can learn from,” said Sandher, who coaches the Lord Byng boys team. “It’s incredible how they handle the girls’ emotions.”Bromige, who is a teacher at Prince of Wales, and Mackay, who works as an information management consultant, have gotten loads of assistance along the way. Valg, who played at UBC and coached many of the current Grey Ghosts coming through the ranks, took a step back this season because her son Finley MacDonald is playing for the Lord Byng senior boys team and she wanted to focus on that. She’s still around the gym frequently, offering guidance to Bromige and Mackay. As well, recent Lord Byng graduate Katie-Anne Reimer, a former provincial team player who was part of the Grey Ghosts team that lost a wild-card game for a B.C.’s berth last season, routinely comes and practises with this year’s team.Regardless of how this week plays out for Lord Byng, it’s an easy see why Sandher is saying, “as athletic director, I’m super proud of the coaches and the girls.’ This is just the school’s second trip to the Triple A provincials, following a 1998 seventh-place finish for a team coached by Jim Day.“Everyone has put in a lot of work and we’re doing way better than anyone expected,” said guard Maggie Mackay, a Grade 11 who is Jennifer’s daughter. “I’ve learned a lot about pushing through. A lot games we thought we were going to lose, but we put in the work and we ended up winning.”email@example.com/SteveEwenTriple A girls basketballAll games Wednesday at Langley Events Centre8:45 a.m. Royal Bay vs. Riverside10:15 a.m. McMath vs. Brookswood12 p.m. Argyle vs. Robert Bateman1:30 p.m. Lord Byng vs Walnut Grove3:15 p.m. Mount Baker vs. Kelowna4:45 p.m. Nanaimo vs. Yale6:30 p.m. Abbotsford vs. Okanagan Mission8 p.m. North Peace vs. SemiahmooFor the entire schedule this week, check outbchighschoolbasketballchampionships.comCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.