By CLAUDE SCILLEY
For Sean Deasy, one memory of the gymnasium at Queen Elizabeth Collegiate that remains vivid involves not something he did in it, but being excluded from it.
“One time, I had to stand outside the principal’s door for a week’s worth of phys-ed classes,” Deasy recalled Wednesday.
“I can’t remember what I’d done, but I did something.”
Deasy was among the QE alumni who went back to the school to attend the final senior boys basketball game that would ever be played there. The 60-year-old school will close in June and be torn down to make way for a new building, scheduled to open in 2018.
Deasy wasn’t a basketball player—he played football and was part of the graduating class of 1972—but there was a simple reason for him to attend Wednesday’s game. “Closure,” he said.
“It’s our school. It’s been our school forever,” he said. “We met our wives here. Forty-some years later, we still meet every Saturday, all of us.”
Deasy reflected on attending games in the salad days of Red Raiders basketball, watching players like John Telford, Virg Allegrini, Cy Nagle, Jerry Zalewski, Jim Vandermeer—“I could go on.”
“They were tremendous,” he said, “absolutely incredible.”
One of them was a classmate named Al Baker, who later would teach and coach at QE, and also serve as both vice-principal and principal.
Baker was at Wednesday’s game “to acknowledge history.”
“Truth be known,” he said, “it’s emotion that got me here. There’s a large part of my history here and I just wanted to say good-bye to the place.”
Baker recalled when his team captured the county junior basketball title in a game played in the QE gym, in the days before championship games were showcased at Queen’s University. The Raiders prevailed over Regi in what was then a best-of-three final. “It went three games,” Baker said.
“That was the beginning. That’s when Bruce Black came and Alec Murray came and the whole athletic program turned around. Prior to that, the QE junior basketball team probably hadn’t won a game in two years.”
Murray, an alumnus of the school (class of 1963) returned as a teacher in 1970. He coached there for many years, and later officiated basketball games in the QE gym. “For me it was a special place,” he said. “I have tons of memories. I just don’t know where to start.
“This is the last basketball game so there’s a bit of sadness to see things go. It would have been nice if both schools (Kingston Collegiate is scheduled to close when the new school is finished) could stay open, but that’s not the reality.”
Mel Martyn was the head boy at QE in the 1991-92 school year. “I haven’t been in here for a few years,” he said. “I guess I wanted to see it before they tear down the place.”
“It was fun here,” said Martyn, now a nurse who works with psychiatric outpatients. “I enjoyed it; I think most of the guys did. It was an eclectic school at that time. I think it always was. Everyone always got along here. It was kind of home, even with the staff. We spent a fair amount of time with the coaches and teachers, even outside the classroom, at lunch and things.
“That was one of the differences between here and other places.”