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Rothesay Netherwood School honours late first recruit with memorial tournament

It has been four years since Nova Scotia native and Calgary Dino’s basketball star Andrew Milner passed away in a canoeing accident at the age of 19.

The young athlete was the first ever recruit for Rothesay Netherwood School’s prep basketball team back in 2017, and his legacy looms large with a tournament named in his honour.

“I’m kind of crazy and I like to dream big so I wanted to build the best basketball program in the world,” says Netherwood coach and tournament organizer Damian Gay. “Andrew Milner was the first person, not just kid, first person that looked at me like I wasn’t crazy and he actually believed in me.”

“He is just so important, not just to our school, but the Canadian Basketball Community.”

The tournament itself began Thursday and wrapped up on Saturday. Play featured eight teams from all four amateur basketball leagues in the country, including USPORTS teams like University of New Brunswick, and the University of Cape Breton.

Second year player Rayner Glenn looks at the challenge as a great opportunity to learn more about the game.

“Obviously they are older, they’re stronger, and they’re more experienced,” says Glenn. “But it’s a really good opportunity to play against some guys that are older then you and have been playing game longer.”

“To have a USPORTS team to say yes to a high school basketball tournament is unique,” Gay says. “I would love to say it was me but it’s not me. It’s Andrew.”

Milner was a two-time national champion with Basketball Nova Scotia before joining Rothesay Netherwood. He would later move west to play for the Calgary Dinos, making an impact in each stop.

“I’ll be honest he kind of made me who I am as a coach and as a person and as a teacher,” admits Gay. “That’s why he is so special, that’s why this event is so meaningful, and that’s why each year we are going to try and make it a little bit bigger.”

Assistant head of Rothesay Netherwood Craig Jollymore says as great as an athlete Milner was, he was an even better person.

“He always took the time to ask about my children, about my wife, about my life, about my holiday,” recalls Jollymore. “He was just a remarkable young man of integrity of values and of a commitment to absolute excellence.”

A memorial plaque and jersey can be found right as you walk into the Irving Gymnasium on the school’s campus, capped off by a quote from the late teen reading “Never forget what made you who you are”.

“Even though I didn’t know him personally, we talk about him a lot and he is really important to the program and me,” says Glenn.

“It is an opportunity for us to bring together some of the best basketball possible in the region, and have them play at an exceptionally high level,” Jollymore says. “I don’t think Andrew could imagine any better way to recognize him then that.”

The festivities concluded Saturday night with a banquet on campus, where retired NCAA coach Jim Harrick, who won the 1995 National College Basketball Championship with UCLA, shared his wisdom as the keynote speaker after running a coaching seminar earlier in the day.

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