Howard Tsumara - The Province
May 3, 2012
NORTH VANCOUVER - Jaime Hills says that she first learned the story of the late Quinn Keast a number of years ago after she read an article about him in The Province.
Now, nearly six years after the former star basketball player from Handsworth Secondary lost his life in a pedestrian accident on his high school grad night, Hills, a Handsworth senior and star with the girls basketball team, is taking a leading role towards insuring that Keast’s inspirational legacy will live on in the hearts of incoming classes of students at the North Vancouver school.
To that end, Hills has led a fund-raiser for the Quinn Keast Foundation entitled No Regrets: The Unveiling, set to take place at Handsworth on May 12. The student-run event will feature the unveiling of a 6-foot high mural of Keast, painted by Handsworth art student Rachel Woldmo, will become a permanent fixture at the school.
All monies raised through either donations or from the function’s on-site barbecue will be channelled to the foundation.
Keast is best known for his phrase ‘No Regrets’, a personal motto which described his zeal to make the most of every opportunity afforded him in life, especially on the basketball court. In that vein, the day will include a full slate of three-on-three basketball tournaments in a number of age divisions.
“I think everyone has their own interpretation of No Regrets,” explains Hills. “I take it to mean what Quinn put into basketball, and that at the end of the day, if you worked as hard as you could, then you did all you could. But you can put it into other aspects of life, like not passing up opportunities when you have a chance to do something.”
No story better illustrated the work ethic Keast brought to his life than the task he accepted in the summer before his 2005-06 Grade 12 season at Handsworth.
Head basketball coach Randy Storey talked with his senior-to-be about doing all he could to become the best he could be, asking him in the process to shoot 30,000 shots over the summer.
Keast vowed to take 100,000, many while shooting uphill on the basket in the family driveway. In December of 2005, six months before his passing, Keast told The Province: “I didn’t keep count, exactly. I just figured that if I took as many shots as I could, it wouldn’t matter.”
The more Hills thought of what Keast’s ideals meant to her, the more she realized she wanted to make a difference before graduation ceremonies in June quickly led to her university career next season playing for the CIS championship runner-up UBC Thunderbirds. So as a student council vice-president at Handsworth, she took her idea to council president Eric Warner. From there the project gained wings.
Woldmo was brought in to paint the mural, while a group of students took to the task of organizing the day’s festivities, including the scheduling of a band of all-Handsworth musicians.
Needless to say, everyone who has chosen to be involved in the project has been inspired by Keast, and that includes the artist Woldmo.
“It was definitely a big challenge taking on this mural,” says Woldmo, “because it had to be something that not just out school could appreciate, but everyone he knew and everybody in our community. But I was up for that challenge.”
Keast, of course, was a study in determination on the court. And Woldmo quickly picked up on those key traits as she studied his photos and began her initial sketches.
“Every picture I looked at, his face has this intensity in it,” said Woldmo. “I wanted to be very careful and specific, because every time he went to the net and he was going for it, he had this one face he would make.”
The mural, which grew from an organic movement within the school’s student body, is further evidence of the impact Quinn Keast continues to have almost six years after his passing.
And for student-athletes like Hills, who will experience her own Handsworth grad night in the coming weeks, there seems to be a palpable strength gained by embracing his ‘No Regrets’ mantra.
“Quinn has changed my life so much, so to be able to pass that on to others is a great feeling,” Hills says of the awareness she hopes the mural will offer future generations of Handsworth students.