There’s something inherently special about a sports tournament. The competition, the camaraderie, the excitement of measuring oneself against an unknown opponent, all packaged into a weekend that shapes a young athlete’s fond memories of his or her favourite game.
In a town full of sports tournaments, there are always a few that stand out above the rest. In the high school sports landscape, the Loyola-Ed Meagher Sports Tournament is a tournament that has brought many memories to its organizers and participants.
The tournament, now in its 44th year, is named after long-time Loyola teacher, coach, and administrator, Ed Meagher, who started the tournament as a way to promote high school sports in Montreal.
To honour the contributions of Meagher, who passed away in 1995, Concordia University re-named their arena the Ed Meagher Arena in January of 2000.
The arena, along with the Concordia gym, will play host to various high school basketball and hockey teams from around the city including, among others, College Regina Assumpta, Loyola High School, Selwyn House, and West Island College, from Monday, Jan. 20 to Saturday, Jan. 25.
Meagher’s son, Richard, who is a teacher and former administrator at Loyola High School, spoke fondly of those memories of some of the early tournaments he shared with his late father.
“The very first memory that comes to me, year after year, is that of young men with beards, some with babies in tow, descending upon the rink in the early years to take on our baby-faced 15- and 16-year-olds,” said Meagher, “In the early 1970s, teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and often Ontario had 18- and 19-year-olds and while Loyola never won the tournament in those early days we gave them some tough competition, and they always went away impressed with the Loyola teams they faced.”
“This was the weekend my dad looked forward to most — and that has certainly stuck with me and in a way I feel that he is still living the tournament through me,” he added.
The tournament has grown over the years and has attracted more and more media attention with each passing year.
“Most participants consider the Loyola tournament to be the best in the city, and probably the best they will attend during their high school career,” said Meagher. “It is the tournament everyone wants to attend, and hopefully win. The number one thing I would say everyone walks away with, especially those who win the gold medal, is a memory for life.
“I was fortunate to win the Juvenile hockey gold medal playing for St. Andrews College of Aurora, Ontario way back in 1978,” continued Meagher. “I can remember standing on the blue line and having the gold medal placed around my neck like it was only yesterday — but that was 36 years ago. That memory and experience has been ingrained in me for life.”
Roberto Mormina, currently a forward with the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team and a Loyola High School grad, can attest to how special the tournament was for young athletes from across the province and county.
“The Ed Meagher sports tournament remains to this day one of the most impassioned sporting experiences of my amateur career,” said Mormina, “The sights and sounds of a building filled with your friends and your teachers, cheering and chanting with pride, drove me to better myself and to put on the greatest performance I could. This tournament, above all others, was personal. This was our home and we all knew that no one was going to raise that trophy but us. It was exhilarating.”
For more information on the history of the tournament and the tournament schedules, visit: www.loyola.ca/tournament.