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The Aidan K. Harrington Memorial basketball tournament is much more than jump shots, dunks and three-pointers.
It’s an opportunity to remember an individual’s love of the sport and his passion for Kensington Intermediate-Senior High School while raising funds for a worthwhile cause.
“It’s a really good way to remember him for who he was because basketball, sports and leadership were so important to him,” said Aidan’s sister, Hannah Harrington, who coaches the host KISH Torchmen. “To be able to do that every year and honour him with a tournament in his name is a cool way to do it.”
Aidan, a former male athlete of the year at KISH, passed away suddenly at the age of 20 in November 2016, after experimenting with a psychedelic drug while living in Halifax, N.S., and attending University of King’s College.
Shortly after Aidan’s death, Alan and Valerie Harrington of Spring Valley were approached about a tournament being held in their son’s memory. This weekend will mark the fourth annual event with games at KISH and Kinkora Regional High School.
“It started by two people that I used to coach,” said Aidan’s father, Alan Harrington. “Mitchell Bernard and his new wife Brianna were both coaching at KISH when Aidan died and they put this tournament together in his memory. It means a lot to us.”
In past years, tournament proceeds went to a scholarship in Aidan’s name presented to a graduating KISH student. This year, all proceeds will go to three-year-old Camden Kingyens of Summerside. Camden is currently undergoing cancer treatments at the IWK Health Centre.
“There were great contributions to Aidan's memorial scholarship and we will make sure that will continue, but helping a family going through this kind of test makes the tournament a positive force,” said Alan. “We contacted the family and they are on board.”
Along with raising funds, there is another important aspect of the tournament for the Harrington family.
"One of the biggest things that are important for our family is definitely to have a very sportsmanlike weekend,” said Hannah. “We want everyone to make sure they are very respectful on the court and we want to make sure it’s a fun tournament.”
“It’s a really good way to remember him for who he was because basketball, sports and leadership were so important to him. To be able to do that every year and honour him with a tournament in his name is a cool way to do it.”
- Hannah Harrington
Aidan was a standout on the basketball court during his six years at KISH from 2007 to 2014. His teams won provincial bronze in Grade 7, silver in Grade 8, gold in Grade 10 and silver in Grades 11 and 12. In the Torchmen’s gold-medal-winning victory in Grade 10, Aidan sank nine three-pointers.
"He loved the sport and said his time playing for KISH were his best memories,” said Alan. “He also said he would rather coach than play. He was looking forward to coaching.”
Former KISH athletic director Logan Roche feels Aidan had the personality to be a great coach. “When I started there Aidan was starting peer helping,” explained Roche. “His placement was with me down in the gym.
“For his first hour every day, he would show up and we would get things ready for the day and I would be teaching Phys. Ed and it was like having a practice teacher in there with you.
“Everybody liked him, he was so great with the kids and having him as my peer-helping student, everyone was like, ‘This new Roche guy is OK because Aidan approves of him.’”
Another highlight for Aidan at KISH was the Torchmen’s participation in the prestigious Coal Bowl in New Waterford, N.S. He was named a first-team all-star and Roche, who was an assistant coach, recalled the impact Harrington had on local fans during the team’s opening game against the host school.
“Little us from Kensington went over there and we were keeping with them all game and in the fourth quarter took a lead on them and battled back and forth,” recalled Roche. “Aidan just put the team on his shoulders and just started three-pointer after three and they would foul him and send him to the line and he was just pouring them in.”
The host school would take the lead late and held on for a close victory.
“Honestly, it was a real-life Rocky IV scenario,” said Roche. “After they watched Aidan put the team on his shoulders, they started saying, ‘This team is fun to watch and you have to watch this Harrington kid.’
“We were there for the rest of the week and had strangers coming up to us and saying that was one of the best games they have watched. Every other game that we played after that wasn’t against them, their fans and kids would show up cheering for us every time because we battled them so hard that game. It was Aidan who was Rocky Balboa for sure.”
Basketball first love
Although Aidan played soccer at the University of King’s College, Alan and Hannah both confirmed there was no doubt basketball was his first love.
"It was his No. 1 choice," said Alan. "I don't know how relevant this is, he was asked by a couple of NCAA coaches to try out for NCAA Division Two teams.
“He said no to that and it was too far away. He was asked by another school to play, but he had his heart set on King’s. He went to King’s and ended up playing soccer.”
Hannah said her older brother began displaying a passion for basketball at a very young age.
“When we were kids he had every basketball card ever and he knew the stats for every person on every team in the entire NBA,” said Hannah. “How tall they were, what position they played and everything.
“It was always something he loved from the time we were kids and he started playing when he was young. It was something that I followed in his footsteps with.”
Schedule for Aidan Harrington Memorial basketball tournament:
Thursday, Jan. 9
At Three Oaks Senior High School:
Three Oaks Team Two vs. Three Oaks Team 3.
Friday, Jan. 10
At Kensington Intermediate-Senior High:
4:30 p.m. – Three Oaks Team Two vs. Charlottetown Rural Team Three.
6:15 p.m. – Charlottetown Rural Team Three vs. Three Oaks Team Three.
At Kinkora Regional High School:
3:15 p.m. – Kensington vs. Kinkora.
5 p.m. – Kinkora vs. Colonel Gray Team Two.
6:45 p.m. – Kensington vs. Colonel Gray Team Two.
Saturday, Jan. 11
At Kinkora Regional High School:
9:30 a.m. – Semifinal: second-place team in Pool A vs. first-place team in Pool B.
11:15 a.m. – Third-place team in Pool A vs. third-place team in Pool B.
At Kensington Intermediate-Senior High:
9:30 a.m. – Semifinal: first-place team in Pool A vs. second-place team in Pool B.
Noon – Bronze-medal game: losing teams of two semifinal games at 9:30 a.m.
1:45 p.m. – Gold-medal game: winning teams of two semifinal games at 9:30 a.m.