Patrick Perrotte doesn’t shy away from challenges. The 6’1″, 215 lb. power forward is considered small for his position; his opponents are usually a good head taller, and wider still. But for the player with a self-described “Stinger heart”, playing without fear is what makes him so dangerous.
Ben Sormonte’s 3-point shot is a precise and painful dagger that has ended the hopes of many challenging teams. His play is methodical and intelligent, while smooth all the same. And like a well-oiled machine, you can’t always see the work behind his motions, but you know it’s there.
Together, Perrotte and Sormonte make up the heart and soul of the Stingers basketball team, according to head coach John Dore. Always composed and ready to work, the fierce competitors exude confidence.
So what could, in a dimly lit Halifax Metro Centre hallway on a quiet Friday afternoon, make two grown men, two athletes in prime physical condition, cry?
“I don’t really realize it yet. It’s tough,” says Sormonte in a quiet whisper, his red, teary eyes intently focused on the cement floor. “It’s just. it’s tough.”
Minutes earlier, top-seeded Concordia lost 63-62 to the hometown favourite Saint-Mary’s Huskies. And for Perrotte and Sormonte, both fifth-year seniors, one point – one Huskies free throw – ended their last push for a national title.
And while this past weekend had some high points, (both players received Player of the Game awards and the Stingers put together a three-point victory over UBC in the consolation final Sunday afternoon) a national championship was what the seniors really wanted.
“I know it was my last chance to get that ring. I thought we had a great chance to win it all,” Perrotte says, his red eyes and stained cheeks betraying his otherwise confident demeanor: hands on hips, voice unwavering and head held high.
Coming up short at the nationals is something both Perrotte and Sormonte have already experienced. The Concordia co-captains both competed in the 2005 national championship game that pitted the Stingers against the Carleton Ravens and saw them lose gold.
A Verdun native, Perrotte will graduate with a degree in Leisure Sciences this spring, but says he’ll be back to support his teammates next year. It’s the Stingers basketball family, he explains, that made his time at Concordia so memorable.
Perrotte played his entire university basketball career at Concordia and was an All-Star all five years. This season, he led the Stingers in scoring with 18.1 points per game and was named the Quebec University Basketball League’s Most Valuable Player.
Sormonte, himself a soon-to-be Finance graduate, feels the same way. “[Those guys are] my brothers. For sure I’m going to support them and hopefully they can win for us [next year],” he says.
Head coach John Dore is confident that a new generation of leaders will emerge next season to fill the major gap Perrotte and Sormonte will leave behind. Dore named forwards Andre Johnny and Jamal Gallier, and All-Star guards Dwayne and Damian Buckley, as players that will have to step up. The essence of a basketball program, Dore says, is having guys fill in and assume that leadership role.
“Pat and Ben have had their day in the sun and have done a great job,” Dore says. “They’re great guys. They’re really good with the fans and they’re appreciative of everything Concordia University’s done for them.”
For Perrotte and Sormonte, the buzzer has sounded on their university basketball careers. And the two All-Stars will forever be missing one major accomplishment on their stat sheets: a national championship. “Life sometimes is this way. You can’t always be on the top,” Sormonte says. “But I’m leaving here with one song in my head: ‘I did it my way.'”