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Basketball paved way for athlete’s future

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If he had never played basketball, Rivergrove resident Joe Ogoms isn’t sure how the rest of his high school career — or his life — would have turned out.

One thing that is absolutely certain is he wouldn’t have been inducted on Saturday night into the Manitoba High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Growing up in the West End, Ogoms showed up at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate as a 6-foot-4 Grade 9 student in 1978.

The Maroons won the junior varsity provincial championship in 1979, with Ogoms being named the tournament MVP. The varsity team reached the provincial final three straight times, and finally won it on the third try, in 1982. Again, Ogoms was the top player in the tournament.

That led to a successful run at the University of Manitoba — where Ogoms was named the conference rookie of the year in 1985 and an All-Canadian in 1986 and 1987 — a stint on the Canadian national team, and a lengthy professional career in Europe.

"They’re both important, but I’d say it’s probably the High School (Hall of Fame) that might be a little better," said Ogoms, who was already an inductee in the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame. "At the time there weren’t a lot of people from Daniel Mac going to university."

He would go to class eventually, but he was usually late because he and his friends were shooting hoops somewhere in the neighbourhood.

"If not for basketball, I don’t know if I would have finished high school," he said. "I would have gone to school, but I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I did."

That work ethic got a boost in Grade 11, when Laurie May took over as the coach of the varsity boys at Daniel Mac. Ogoms recalls May instilling discipline both on and off the court.

"He was also an English teacher," Ogoms recalled, "and he tutored me to work harder and get my marks up. I was in the lower level of English, but with his tutoring and helping and pushing me, I went to an extra year of school to get the courses I needed to go to university."

Ogoms graduated from U of M with a major in geography and a minor in sociology.

The best basketball memories for Ogoms remain from that freshman year. The team had a blast taking the city bus to its games, finishing second to St. John’s in the final of every tournament it entered. Until the provincials.

"Everything worked out," Ogoms said. "Everybody played well, we were able to get a buffer, and that was it. Everything was so much fun. There were some characters on that team."

Also going into the High School Hall of Fame were fellow Daniel Mac alums Janet (Maddin) Neale and Ken Opalko, Gord Patterson and Jamie (Hancharyk) Jones of Grant Park and Ron Hinkewich of Miles Macdonell.

The builders inducted were Dick LaPage, Peter Dick and Jerry Ilchyna, while the Lord Selkirk Royals ladies volleyball teams from 1975 to 1979 entered in the team category.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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