Quinn Keast


Quinn was born a twin brother to Jan-Marie (Jamie) on March 3, 1988, 10 days after his twin cousins Andrew and Sarah Blackmore came into the world. All four spent a few days together at Lion’s Gate Hospital while the media hovered, marvelling at the statistically unlikely phenomenon. It was clear from an early age that Quinn had a fast-running engine for games and sports.

 He attended Montroyal Elementary School, a few doors from the family home. The school was populated by wonderful staff and teachers and Quinn and his sister were well-prepared for high school. The sports leagues in the community were many and they were well-supported by volunteers. Quinn played soccer, baseball and ice hockey from the earliest age possible and excelled in all three sports. There were tournaments, leagues games and sports camps. When it came to all-star or rep teams, Quinn was invariably chosen. He was coachable and hard-working with an innate sense of how to play a team game.

 As he moved through the elementary school years Quinn developed a stutter which caused him to shy away from any kind of public speaking or occasions when the spotlight might fall on him. He thus forged an affinity for the underdog, the player or person who might be pushed to the edges of sports or school. But when he stepped on the ice, the field or the hardwood he had no constraints. He was at home in competition, particularly the team kind.

 As elementary school turned into high school at Handsworth, Quinn’s interest in his various sports shifted. Over a two year period he finished playing hockey, soccer and baseball and turned his attention to the game he loved more than any.

 Eventually basketball came into his life when, in 2000 he attended a summer camp for the sport with his friend Aras Kolya, put on by the Vancouver Grizzlies at General Motors Place. Coaches included Steve Nash. Following that camp, Aras’s mother Leda approached one of the young instructors, Glen Chu, and arranged for a small private clinic for a handful of boys who wanted to learn about basketball. That arrangement eventually grew into 3D Basketball Academy, the first of its kind in B.C.

 In 2002 he tried out for a Zone team which would play at the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo. Here he was teamed with fellow Handsworth teammate and fast friend, Scott Leigh. That Zone team won the gold medal and laid the platform for Quinn and Scott to compete for B.C. Coaches began to recognize his skill, dedication and willingness to do whatever it took to further the team’s goals.

 At 3D, a name which was derived from ‘discipline, dedication, determination’, Glen stressed the need for the expanding number of players to keep up with their school work and to follow the principles of good sportsmanship. Quinn progressed well in both. In 2003 he, Scott Leigh and a younger Rob Sacré were all selected to the provincial U-15 team that would compete in the Western Canada Summer Games in Selkirk, Manitoba. Another gold medal. Quinn and Scott both continued to represent B.C. on the U-16 team in the summer between Grades 10 and 11 while Rob moved up to the U-17 team.

 Glen became friend and mentor to Quinn, guiding and inspiring him in every aspect of the game of basketball and in the role of a team player. Their bond was very special to both of them. Glen encouraged Quinn to keep a diary of his basketball and school experiences and that journal turned into a remarkable record of how one boy, one player and one teammate drove himself to realize his greatest dream.

 At Handsworth Rob, Quinn and Scott formed the heart of what would eventually become the 2006 AAA provincial champions. Quinn and Scott played senior basketball together from Grades 10-12 with Rob joining them in their Grade 10 year, although still in Grade 9. Coach Randy Storey did a great job of coaching, mentoring and leading them.

 Quinn’s accomplishments on the court were extensive, he was a great team player that understood the value of every possession.  He got more out of his 6’ frame than players who were taller and quicker.  But perhaps most importantly Quinn was a great person.  At Handsworth, basketball practices usually finished around 9:15 at which time it was common to see players of all ages arrive at the gym to put in the extra hours required to be successful.  It was in those sessions that Quinn’s personality shone through.  While most “seniors” would work together at one end of the gym amongst themselves, it was not uncommon to see Quinn working out with the younger kids in the programme, teaching them some of the finer details or the game or just playing one on one with them.  That connection did not end on the court, it extended to the hallways of Handsworth where Quinn would talk to the younger kids in the hallways and set a model for mentoring that seems rare in our schools today.

 Throughout these years Quinn maintained an endearing disposition. He was well-liked by staff and students who saw a shy but inclusive young man emerging, one who was generous and supportive. He approached his last year of high school and the 2005-2006 basketball season with great determination and a sense that he was a member of a very special group of young men who could capture magic in a bottle.

Jamie KeastComment