The following story written by Patrick Kennedy, will appear in the Kingston Whig Standard tomorrow morning. It is available on line now. Our thanks to Pat for helping get the message on the league name change out to a wide audience!
Youth League Honours Late Founder
KINGSTON — The Knights of Columbus Basketball League, a fixture in the city’s sports community for six decades, has been renamed in honour of its founder. Beginning with Season 61 this autumn, the popular youth roundball loop will be known as the ‘Pete’ Petersen Basketball League.
“Can you think of a better way to cement Pete’s legacy?” league president Roland Billings asked rhetorically.
The decision to change the name was made at the league’s annual general meeting in May and announced last weekend on the one-year anniversary of Petersen’s passing.
Billings said the league executive wanted to ensure that Pete’s name and indomitable spirit live on.
“We wanted to make sure that future generations of players understand the legacy of the man who started the league,” reasoned Billings. “Pete was a tremendous influence on the lives of thousands of children and adults in the community.
“If you name a trophy after someone, after a few years it tends to lose meaning and it becomes just another trophy,” he added. “We wanted people, the second and even third generation of players as well as future volunteers, to realize who started it all.”
Added longtime volunteer Greg McAuley: “Five, 10 years down the line, when kids ask ‘Who’s Pete Petersen?’ we want them to know he’s the guy who got this whole thing going and who nurtured the rest of us.”
In 1955, Kingston native Petersen, a sports-minded caretaker at St. Patrick’s School, rounded up two ragtag teams to play a weekly game of hoops in the school gym. “It wasn’t long before we were running seven days a week,” Pete — Don was his seldom-used front name — told a newspaper pal on the occasion of the league’s 50th birthday in 2005.
Now in its seventh decade of playing ‘’just for the fun of it,” today’s setup features 38 teams, five divisions, 475 players and a volunteer force 100 strong – “the key to the operation,” noted the president.
“No one’s above anyone else and no one’s paid a dime,” said Billings, one of several selfless souls with 30-plus years of service. “Everything goes back to the kids. That’s the volunteer model Pete used, usually by barking, ‘Hey! Quit holding up that wall and grab a broom!’ ”
Pete, who died at age 77, once proclaimed, falsely, that his lone claim to fame in the league was that he “put the first ball in the air.” Given the founder’s unflagging humility, the name switch had to be a posthumous accolade.
“We knew Pete would never ever go for this,” Billings pointed out. “He was modest, self-effacing and would’ve fought this tooth and nail.”
(In a related item, around the time the league rubber-stamped the renaming, a deep rumble emanated from beneath the sod at St. Mary’s Cemetery.)
Pete might’ve objected, but he’d have been the only one.
“The reaction and response we’ve received has been extremely positive,” noted Billings.
The league with the new name will one day need a new venue, what with the cozy, cramped gym and St. Patrick’s itself slated to close at the end of the coming school year.
“We’ve been told we’ll have a spot somewhere,” a confident Billings reported.
That spot may well be the planned new separate school in Rideau Heights.
“We look forward to continuing our 60-year relationship with the league and are committed to its goals,“ said Jody DiRocco, director of education of the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.
The school board big-wig also confirmed that the gym in the new school will be named after the jovial janitor.
Over at the Division Street graveyard, the subterranean rumblings grew in intensity.