By Mike Rao
The history of the Notre Dame Tip Off tournament dates back to 1983. Its origin is in the first Father Fogarty tournament held at Notre Dame College School. It was the brainchild of John “Boxer” Belcastro. The responsibility for running the tournament fell on Coaches Ralph Nero, Mike Rao and David Fucile.
In the beginning the invitation went out to the four strongest Catholic schools we could get. We invited four Senior and four Junior teams. Some of the earlier teams included Denis Morris, St. Michael’s Toronto, Brantford St. John’s, St. Pat’s Windsor, Mother Teresa Toronto, Hamilton Cathedral and Notre Dame Burlington to name a few. We ran the tournament in this format for many successful years.
In 1997 we decided to expand the Senior Boys side of the tournament. The Tip Off tournament draw usually invited 16 teams. This tournament is designed to be an early test for all competing teams. We changed the name of the tournament because we sought to get the best competition in the province. We needed to include many of the public schools in order to keep the tournament competitive. Including the public schools into our tournament has opened up many doors for Notre Dame Basketball. We were now able to showcase our talented players across the province. Many coaches enjoyed the fight our teams showed over the past years and invited us to their tournaments.
Although, we regularly compete with the best teams, we have only won our own tournament 4 times in the last 12 years. We enjoy the competition and are proud to bring in the first Quebec teams into the 2015 Tip Off. This tournament has allowed our better players to gauge their skill level with the best in the province. Many of our players have enjoyed a successful career in basketball at the university and college ranks. We have a tremendous facility which creates a great draw into the tournament.
Notre Dame is very proud of all our graduating players. This tournament is an expression of our appreciation for the dedication and love our players show towards Notre Dame Basketball.
(Mike Rao is head coach of the Notre Dame senior boys basketball team.)
Thursday: The tournament draw is provided again on the blog.