The Bedford Road Invitational Tournament (BRIT) Classic’s 50th anniversary is bringing long-lost familiar faces back to the hardcourt.
Among the alumni in the stands watching the basketball tourney is 89-year-old Carl Chiko, who is returning to Bedford Road after 40 years of living in British Columbia.
Chiko has a special connection to the BRIT: he helped found the competition in 1968.
“I’m overwhelmed with the participation of the whole faculty, all of the student body,” he told 650 CKOM while sitting courtside.
The retired academic was working as a counsellor and helping to coach football at Bedford Road in 1967 when the idea for a high school boys’ basketball tournament started to take shape.
He recalled going to Regina’s Lutheran Invitational Tournament with fellow football coach Dean Dickson, basketball coach Merv Houghton, new staff member Don Cousins and Walt Mudge.
The then 14-year tradition in the Queen City gave them motivation.
“We said ‘we can do this, we can give this a shot,'” Chiko said.
“The five of us had no idea what the outcome would be. We knew we could do the first year and maybe the second.”
Shortly after the first tournament ran in 1968, Chiko moved to B.C. for post-doctoral work. He came back for the tournament’s 10th anniversary, but lost touch after that.
He said he was ecstatic when the invite for the 50th BRIT arrived.
“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” he said.
Chiko and his wife travelled to Saskatoon in time for the alumni events Wednesday, and have been taking part in the festivities all week.
He said he was astonished to see how the tournament has grown.
“The cheerleading, the pep rally, everything. We just didn’t have that,” he said.
“It’s an extravaganza, and I’m very impressed.”
While Chiko is glad to be back, he did reply to his invite with a caution.
“I said ‘well I won’t be here for the 100th, but I’ll come for the 50th.'”
The tournament will wrap up with the championship game Saturday night.