A Precious Tradition
Annual Loyola Sports Tournament Bigger Than Ever
You could say it came from Meagher beginnings.
In 1971, the Loyola—Ed Meagher Sports Tournament started out as a four-team hockey tournament. Today, it’s one of the biggest high school sporting events in the country, with 36 teams and over 400 student-athletes competing in three sports.
“It’s a fantastic tournament,” said this year’s honorary chairman, William Hague. “Ed [Meagher] would just be smiling if he saw how great it became.”
Spread over a six-day period every January, most of the matches take place in Concordia’s facilities, as the university lends its hockey rink and basketball court to the tournament.
“Concordia has been a great help over the years, and without them, this would certainly not be possible,” said tournament chairman Bob Lafave.
Many doubted its ability to succeed when the inaugural year was largely a failure. One team couldn’t make it due to a snowstorm, reducing the expected four-team field to just three.
At the end of it, Loyola had lost money—but the school principal at the time, Ken Casey, was determined keep Meagher, and hockey coach Jim Ruddy’s, idea—to create a tournament that would showcase the talent and spirit of high school athletes—alive. He kept the tournament going and, 42 years later, it’s bigger than ever.
“I’ve been a volunteer for six years now at the tournament. My son is going to graduate next year, but I’ll probably be here for another 10 years.”
Meagher, who passed away in 1995, was longtime teacher and coach at Loyola High School.
Meagher forged a Loyola tradition by inspiring the commitment of staff members, parents and alumni. Today, nearly all volunteers are parents of a Loyola student or a former student themselves.
“I’ve been a volunteer for six years now at the tournament. My son is going to graduate next year, but I’ll probably be here for another ten years,” said Peter Arzenshek, with huge smile on his face.
“This event reflects the spirit of the Loyola community. We’re all here because we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, part of one big tradition.”
The event has come a long was since that infamous three-team debut, now featuring not only hockey but also basketball and wrestling. But as important as the competitive side to the tournament is, Lafave doesn’t hide the fact that making a profit is also a big reason why the tournament committee keeps organizing the event year after year.
“Our mission is to make a profit that goes to the school so they can buy sports equipment,” said Lafave, who noted the school had recently purchased two $21,000 scoreboards. “That’s the kind of expense the school wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.”
The tournament has seen its geographical scope grow significantly as well, as today, teams from Ontario, the Maritimes and even from across the border making their way to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to compete against local high schools in Montreal.
“It’s awesome to play different teams and see the whole school cheering for you; it’s a motivation boost for everybody,” said John Bews, Loyola’s juvenile hockey team captain. “We’re all here to participate, but for sure it’s always better when your school wins.”