Hoops for Hospice
By Garrett Fodor
A local author is sharing his passion for local basketball history.
While Windsor and Essex County are better known for producing hockey talent, the area also has over 60 years of producing strong basketball talent. In a project led by Bob Turner and a team of 24 authors a basketball encyclopedia for Windsor and Essex County has been created. The book covers the local history of the sport from 1891 to 2016. First editions of the book were released in August of 2016 and all 500 copies have been sold.
Turner, a former high school teacher, principal and basketball coach, was looking for something to do after losing his vision. Turner said he was just looking for something to do after he lost his vision. He was inspired after watching a documentary on James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.
“I was looking for something to keep me busy,” said Turner. “ I started to do some research and writing on him (Naismith). That was part A of the book and the second part was the history in our area.”
The first part of the book details the history of basketball and its progression and growing popularity to today’s game. It also included a sample of the tests and requirements for those who want to be basketball officials in Windsor and Essex County.
Turner and his team voted on the top 55 players to play basketball in Windsor and then voted on a team of “All City All-Stars.” The book covers 27 schools from the area, with nearly every school represented in the top 55. Assumption College had the most recognition with eight players being selected to play for the Purple Raiders.
Earning recognition and the lone spot on the list for Essex District High School was Peter Vandebovenkamp. He played for the Red Raiders from 1979 to 1983 before graduating and spending five years at the University of Western. Vandebovenkamp is now in Belgium teaching physical education and coaching basketball.
Joe Amicarelli, secretary for the Windsor Essex County Secondary Sports Association and teacher at Essex High School said it was an honour to contribute to the book and work with Turner.
“He’s teaching basketball out there, he’s done very well and made Essex proud,” said Amicarelli. “It is a character of Turner, he’s well known in this area. What he has done for basketball and high school kids is great to see and I’m hoping we build off that.”
Mike Hawkins, principal at Essex District High School, was coached by Turner at Forster Secondary School. The two later worked together when Hawkins first became a teacher at Forster. The two have kept in touch ever since.
Hawkins said he was not surprised Turner would undertake a project like the book.
“His passion would come through as a coach in our Christmas break practices,” said Hawkins. “He came out on the floor with us and we learned how good of a player he was. Even though we were running around at 16, 17 and 18-years-old he took control of the floor.”
Both Hawkins and Amicarelli credited Turner for his knowledge and background. Turner is known as a basketball historian for the area.
Amicarelli, Hawkins and Turner all hope this book is the start of similar spinoff projects to come from chronicling other local sports. Turner is donating all proceeds of the sale of the book to The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County Inc. and raised over $15,000 to date