Keeping Inuvik’s basketball tradition alive

More than 30 years after its inception, the Inuvik Men’s Basketball Club remains alive and strong

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Clinton Gordon was 16-years-old when he was invited to come out and play in the Inuvik Men’s Basketball Club in 1997, a group that was formed in the late 1980s at Samuel Hearne Secondary School.

“When we were at Sam’s, we showed up at 7:30 pm and shot around for half an hour. When we were done, we would shoot around until the janitor left,” said Gordon. “We stayed until 10:30 pm or 11 pm, just playing. It would just be me and another guy. Sometimes I would leave and someone else would stay.”

The 38-year-old has managed to keep his dribble 22 years later, and now finds himself at the helm of the club.

“The talent here is good. These kids are fast,” he said. “When I started, I was in their shoes. We were the young guys against the old guys, and now we’re the old guys.”

Keenen Wolki goes up for a layup while defended by Douglas Keevik during a pickup game of basketball on June 24. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Keenen Wolki goes up for a layup while defended by Douglas Keevik during a pickup game of basketball on June 24. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

From September until June, men as young as 17 and as old as 40 have helped keep the club alive by coming out at 8 pm to play two hour games of pick-up basketball every Monday and Wednesday at the East Three Secondary School gym.

“For me, I love coming out. That’s it. I love coming out,” said Gordon. “I don’t care how sick I am sometimes. I’ll come out. I just hope that the guys have fun coming out and playing.”

He said that his goal as the club’s leader is to provide the youth with the same opportunities that he had growing up.

“I know the older guys gave me the opportunity. In a way, this is a way of keeping it going, to give the younger guys an opportunity to come out and play,” he said.

Clinton Gordon, the head of the Inuvik Men’s Basketball Club, takes the ball up the court during a pickup game of basketball on June 26. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo
Clinton Gordon, the head of the Inuvik Men’s Basketball Club, takes the ball up the court during a pickup game of basketball on June 26. Aaron Hemens/NNSL photo

Last year, he said that there were nights where only seven or eight guys would come out. This season however, there was an average of around 12 to 15 players who would consistently show up both days of the week.

“It gives them an opportunity to improve their game. Again, it’s all for the younger guys,” said Gordon. “It gives them an opportunity to grow and just have a better experience.”

The club’s increase in popularity, he said, comes from the love of the game.

“They’re older and it gives them something to do, to keep them out of trouble,” he said.

The majority of players had graduated from high school years ago, but there still remains a few who are in their senior years of secondary school.

“I just think it’s good for even the high school kids to come out because it gives them a little bit more of a higher level experience playing with us,” said Gordon. “It gives them the opportunity to improve their game for high school.”

As the club continues to grow, he said that he’s hoping to start an organized league in town next season.

“There’s a tournament every February, but if we do get a league going, we’ll do more tournaments,” he said. “I’m hoping that there’s going to be more guys who can help me organize something. There’s some pretty solid guys who are committed to running things.”

In terms of his playing days, he said that he has no plans of stepping away from the game anytime soon.

“I want to say I’m done but I’m not, because next year I’ll do the same thing,” he said.