Adult basketball teams from Haines, Klukwan, Juneau, Hoonah and Whitehorse competed in Haines over the weekend in the 34th Annual Dick Hotch Memorial Tournament.
Many people who knew the Klukwan coach whom the tournament was named for were either playing on the court or watching in the stands.
“He had a pretty big influence on us young guys as we were growing up,” said Jeff Klanott. “He took us traveling from Metlakatla all the way up to Whitehorse just to play basketball.”
Klanott was adopted and raised by Dick Hotch. He sat in a far corner of the school gym bleachers Friday watching Round Robin games in the tournament named for his father and coach.
“If we didn’t play the game the way he thought we should be playing, he’d sit you down and tell you,” Klanott said. “Sportsmanship was a big part of the game to him.”
Ed Hotch is Dick Hotch’s nephew. He played in the tournament on the Chilkat Warriors team.
“He was very respectful of all his players,” Hotch said. “He made sure his team practiced. I’m trying to instill in my sons that that’s what they need to do.”
Ed is one of the many people Hotch coached on the Klukwan ANB basketball team.
“After he passed away, because he coached the Klukwan teams for so long, they wanted to do something in his remembrance, so they started this tournament named after him,” Ed said.
The event has continued for more than 30 years. Some teams consider it a warm-up for the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau that follows a couple weeks after this one. Ed says the team he’s on is almost all family members – brothers and cousins.
“A lot of the people that you see are younger guys,” he said. “So it’s better to see them in the gym than on the streets.”
Marvin Willard, Jimbo Stevens and Charles Williams are sitting at a table right outside of the gym. Willard remembers when Hotch was his coach.
“I’d say he made us really good basketball players because we were the first team in Haines to win a Gold Medal tournament. It was in 1973,” Willard said.
Williams pulls out pictures of Klukwan and Haines ANB basketball teams from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. Stevens names the players.
“Some of the people you see in the pictures here, their grandsons are playing in this tournament right now,” Willard said. “That’s how old this sport is here in Haines.”
The Dick Hotch Tournament ended on Sunday with a championship face-off between Whitehorse and the Haines Merchants – a team made up of Juneau and Haines players. The Haines Merchants beat Whitehorse 74 to 68. The Klukwan Chilkats came in third place.