“SPORTS AT RMC IN THE POST-WAR ERA” #6
Canadian Origin, Leadership Development, Flexibility: BASKETBALL
By 3201 Austen (Aus) Cambon, Cadet Wing Sports Officer, RMC 1953-54
A Sport with Canadian Content in its Origin
Canada and hockey remain solidly connected within our culture. We can also claim some Canadian content associated with the creation of the sport of basketball. James Naismith, a Canadian born in Almonte, Ontario, a graduate of McGill University, created the game in 1891 while teaching at a YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is well known that a peach basket hung above the floor served as the first basket. Not as well known is that, evidently, at least ten of the players in the first game of basketball were university students from Quebec!
Basketball, like other sports, provides a wonderful opportunity for the development of character and leadership qualities. This has been very evident at RMC where playing on a team is a worthy learning experience. Competition provides opportunity to identify leaders, recognize commitment, and achieve success using teamwork. All of this can also be applied in the military or in business and industry.
In this piece we’ll take a look at the College’s basketball program in the early post-war era and just some of those who stood out in this sport at RMC.
In the 1950-1951 season the College fielded basketball teams at three levels: Varsity, Intermediate, and Junior. By now there was no shortage of cadets who had some degree of experience playing basketball. Some cadets were highly-skilled players.
The Varsity team was coached by Mr. Wise, an Assistant Professor who taught history. Palle Kiar, now in Third Year, was elected Captain and was “the spirit and drive of the team”. As one of our superb multi-sport athletes Palle collected many trophies, especially in Track and Field as we reviewed in the past issue, but he always remained very modest about his accomplishments.
Sadly, Palle passed away recently, on October 17,2017. Like others, he had succeeded in the private sector rather than in the military. “Palle had a long and distinguished career with Bell Canada, climbing to Vice President, retiring in 1984.” A good man. Gone. But not forgotten.
Herb Pitts arrived from Royal Roads. Also now in his Third Year, Herb added strength to the team as “a tall hook-shot artist”. We profiled Herb’s exceptional leadership and his bravery in our military during the Korean War in an earlier issue. See “ARCHIVES” Issue 38 published October 9, 2017. Sid Lundell, in his Second Year and playing on the team since he was a recruit, stood out as “a set-shot artist from the corner”. Sid established an intercollegiate individual scoring record this year with 32 points in a game against Bishop’s. He would quietly and confidently continue to be the team’s scoring leader.
2913 Al Kelley, also in Third Year, earned mention frequently in game reports as “an excellent checker and ball handler”. 3088 Fred Ross (RMC’53) was credited with “strong defensive work” and 2950 “Big John” McLaughlin (RMC’52) “for pulling down rebounds”. Though they turned in good performances the team’s record this year was not as good as had been expected with three wins and six losses playing against tough intercollegiate competition (Queen’s, McGill, Bishop’s, Loyola College, Sir George William, University of Montreal, Carleton, Macdonald College, and University of Ottawa).
The College’s Intermediate team, coached by Sergeant Curtis, was formed for the express purpose of giving players lots of experience and delivering replacements to the Varsity Squad. The team played 14 games against a wide range of competitors including Queen’s, Albert College, and the Trenton Flyers. 3081 Pete Price (RMC’53) “an outstanding playmaker”, 3055 Tony Hampson (RMC’53) who played guard (Tony would become CWC in his fourth year), 3021 Jim Burry (RMC’53) and 3240 Dave Palmer (RMC’54), a recruit up from the Juniors, playing guard, earned frequent mentions.
The Junior team, coached by Sergeant Fred McConnell and managed by 2899 Bill Ferguson, played in the Junior Eastern Ontario Amateur Basketball Association (E.O.A.B. A.) League and “came within three points of winning the league Championship and had the College’s best basketball won-lost record of eight wins and five losses”. The team played against nine different competitors including Queen’s and Ottawa University. Eight of the eleven players on the team were recruits in the Class of RMC’54:
3187 Irv Atkins, 3190 Ian Ballantyne, 3201 “Aus” Cambon, 3212 Kerry Gill, 3242 Bill Picton,
3240 Dave Palmer, 3246 Bob Screaton, and 3252 Ted Tromanhauser, another fine multi-sport athlete.
In the 1951-1952 season RMC again fielded three teams: Varsity, Intermediate, and Junior. The Varsity team, coached by C.P.O. Coe, played once again in the Intermediate Intercollegiate League of the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Intercollegiate Conference (Carleton, Queen’s, McGill, University of Montreal, Macdonald College, Sir George William, University of Ottawa and Bishop’s). The team elected Herb Pitts as team Captain. Palle Kiar moved to a guard position to fill a void on the squad. It would be the last year at the College for these two stalwarts. The team had a disappointing season winning 4 and losing 4 League games. They had expected to do better.
The Intermediate team, coached by Sgt. Curtis, had decent success in the Intermediate section of the E.O.A.B.A. 3047 Dutch Gall (RMC’53), 3079 Jim Palmer (RMC’53) and 3034 Dave Dillon (RMC’53) and Pete Price were cited frequently for their fine play. Details of their games are unfortunately scarce.
The Junior team had a very satisfying season winning the Eastern Ontario Amateur Basketball Association (E.O.A.B.A.) Junior “A” Championship, the first basketball championship won by a College team in the post-war era. In League play the team won 4 games, lost 2. The team won the championship in overtime in their last match against the Y.M.C.A. Junior squad. Seven of the team players made the RMC Basketball Team for the CSC Tournament at Royal Roads.
In the 1952-1953 season the Varsity team recorded 5 wins and 4 losses in the Senior St. Lawrence Conference (Queen’s, McGill, University of Montreal, Loyola, University of Ottawa, Carleton, Sir George Williams, University of Montreal and Macdonald College). “Despite the losses it is felt that the superb coaching of Staff Sergeant Fred McConnell and the Managerial Staff of three cadets, this team was one of the smoothest running affairs that this College has seen since the College’s re-opening in 1948.” The season was seen as a year to re-build again given the loss of the players who had departed in the College’s first Graduation Ceremony. Sid Lundell was back and took on the role of team leader and scoring leader. Also back: Ian Ballantyne, Tony Hampson, Dutch Gall, and Jim Burry. Jim Palmer moved up from the Intermediate squad and Aus Cambon and 3391 Tom Ziegler RMC’56) came up from the Juniors.
In the 1953-1954 season the College fielded just two basketball teams, a Varsity team and a Junior team. S/Sgt Fred McConnell was back coaching the Varsity team. The players back playing on the Varsity squad included Ian Ballantyne, Aus Cambon, Tom Ziegler and Jim Brodie. It would be another season of re-building the squad for the future. The Review 1951: “The RMC Senior Basketball team enjoyed its best season since the reopening of the College, winning six League games and losing four. The driving, spirited play of the cadets made them one of the most respected and feared teams in the League.” The Ottawa-St.Lawrence Intercollegiate Basketball Conference included Ottawa University, Ottawa St. Pat’s, C.M.R., Queen’s, University of Montreal, Macdonald College, McGill, Carleton and Sir George William. Co-captains Ballantyne and Brodie led on the floor and off. “Their inspiration coupled with the fine coaching of S/Sgt McConnell always kept the team fighting in the old RMC tradition – never acknowledging defeat till the final whistle.”
In February 1953 we hosted a team from Camp Drum / Fort Drum near Watertown, NY, for an exhibition game. Camp Drum was used as a training base for the US military during the Korean War. Some of the visiting players, having been drafted into military service, were “All-American” stars from US colleges. Even while playing it was hard not to just stand aside and watch their amazing skills. However, their coach was a very good-natured chap and allowed for a good game, understanding the circumstances. Our chaps checked well and played hard defensively with Dutch Gall putting in an especially good effort but it was inevitable that we would not win this one. However, the final score was respectable: 68-55.
The Junior team, also coached by S/Sgt Fred McConnell again played in championship form with all new players on the team, the previous year’s players having become ineligible for age reasons in this “junior” League. At the time of the deadlines for the college publications the team had won all but one of their games in E.O.A.B.A. Junior league games. Among the exhibition games was one against a visiting team from CMR in which the RMC Juniors were victorious 55-36. A return match at CMR was scheduled.
Flexibility is another attribute one can use to advantage, whether in the military or in business. Upon my return from Korea in 1954 my military duties, and afterwards my work in industry, allowed me to pursue sports officiating as a hobby. Among my most interesting assignments officiating high school, college, and semi-professional basketball was a game I refereed at Laval University in my hometown, Quebec City. The visiting team was the world-renowned House of David squad, farm club of the famed Harlem Globetrotters. For much of the game I was invited to be a party to the entertainment component presented by the visitors. I was asked to “be flexible” and just do whatever I was asked to do as these players show-cased their magic. I did everything I was asked to do and it all worked out just fine. I’m sure that I learned how to be flexible at RMC. Thank you, Alma Mater!
“Coming soon: Tennis, Volleyball, other “smaller-team sports”, Hockey, and more. Feedback, please!”