Tessa Beauchamp’s love of the colour purple will make the gym at Holy Cross Regional High School look a little like a Prince concert this weekend.
The Fleetwood-area school’s fallen basketball star will be remembered during another Tessa’s Tournament, a two-day competition involving 44 senior, junior and Grade 8 girls teams from the Lower Mainland and other parts of B.C.
Holy Cross is the tourney hub on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1-2), with games played at four other school gyms in Surrey and one in New Westminster.
“We have a record number of teams this year, and 65 games scheduled,” reported Steve Beauchamp, Tessa’s dad. “The tournament has evolved and just continues to grow, not only in reputation but in experience and what the tournament really stands for.”
The competition is organized by Tessa Beauchamp Foundation (tessabeauchamp.org), created in the wake of her death in 2012. At the age of 18, a rare type of cancer claimed the popular athlete, and each year the foundation works to give scholarships to deserving young girls and boys.
Missing you for 7 years now… living on with your memory through coaching & the game you loved 🏀5 days till #TessaTournament our biggest tournament yet with 44 teams this weekend 💜 pic.twitter.com/cLBn5Wxl9Q
— Cecile Ehman (@ceasefire_cc) January 27, 2019
— Tessa's Foundation (@Tessa23fdn) January 10, 2019
This weekend’s tourney, the seventh, is an annual highlight for those who work to keep Tessa’s memory alive.
“It’s created a bit of a tradition, and I think players look forward it,” Beauchamp said.
“It’s a tough event to run,” he added, “because you are flooded with so many memories (of Tessa), but at the same time it brings… I don’t know if gratification is the word, but it’s a feeling about who Tessa was is being reflected in the tournament, and what players are doing in their communities. Something that has come out of a pretty tragic event is now there to help other students like her.”
Four scholarships, each worth $1,000, are given to Grade 12 girls during the tournament, and the foundation hands out another six scholarships at other events throughout the year.
Last July, Langley Thunder lacrosse fans helped raise money for the foundation during a special game that saw the Senior A players wear purple jerseys in honour of Tessa’s favourite colour. The uniforms were auctioned off, raising $1,640 for the organization’s work to provide scholarships.
At Tessa’s Tournament, purple is a common sight.
“There are T-shirts, and the girls wear purple things in their hair and ribbons, things like that,” Beauchamp explained.
“This year,” he added, “we’re asking the teams to bring lightly used athletic gear for donation to Ancop, and they’ll bring it all to the Philippines. That’s a unique twist to it this year. One tradition we have during every game is, both teams come together for a group photograph. That’s something done in the spirit of Tessa, who was as competitive as they come, and hated to lose and all that, but once the game was over, you couldn’t find a more gracious person.”
In another twist, Tessa’s Tournament isn’t as competitive as similar events, at least in the traditional sense.
“It’s a unique setup because it doesn’t create a tournament winner, it’s more about teams competing against others that are similarly ranked or have similar abilities,” Beauchamp explained. “It’s a set draw, you know who you’ll play, and there are no championship games.”
Tessa’s parents, Steve and Wendy, work to stage the tournament with the help of foundation board members and many other people, including their daughters, Amy and Rachel, and several teachers at Holy Cross, both current and former – among them, Tessa’s volleyball coach, Rachel Johnston. Amy coaches the school’s Grade 8 girls team, and Rachel, who plays basketball at Douglas College, will help organize the games played there.
“The outpouring of community involvement is really great, including help from past players and the Fleetwood community,” Beauchamp said. “With 65 games in two days, it’s amazing how it all comes together.”
Surrey-area schools represented at this weekend’s tournament are Holy Cross, Fleetwood Park, Fraser Heights, Panorama Ridge and Sullivan Heights. In addition to Holy Cross and Douglas College, games will be played at Surrey Christian Middle and Secondary schools, St. Matthews Elementary and Fleetwood Park Secondary.