ACAC's First Shooting Star

ACAC's First Shooting Star

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

The year is 1964 and the National Basketball Association  (NBA) has only nine teams...a far cry from its present day 30-team selection.

The year is 1964 and the Western Inter-College Conference (WICC) kicks off its inaugural season with five teams...a far cry from its present day 17-team selection.

The NBA scoring champion that year was Wilt Chamberlain at 34.7 points per game (ppg).

The WICC basketball scoring champion that year was Terry Kimmel at 14.4 ppg.

Chamberlain would lead the NBA the following season with a 33.5 ppg average.

Kimmel would also repeat as the WICC top points maker with a 23.8 ppg output.

Basketball was the only sport in the WICC in 1964-65 as it would later rename itself to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) with a present day 17 schools and 10 sports for student/athletes to participate in.

Terry Kimmel at 73

While the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain was the star attraction for the San Francisco Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers during this two-year span, Kimmel was the main young gun for the SAIT Trojans based out of Calgary, Alberta.

Not bad for a young man who had only averaged around 8.5 ppg in high school while suiting up for the Bowness High School Trojans.

"When I was playing high school basketball we had a couple of guys who thought themselves as the team stars and scorers and I was happy to play the role of assists guy," recalled Kimmel, now residing in Ottawa, Ontario.

"When I went to SAIT, I decided to make a change and became more aggressive and much more offensive minded."

Kimmel, who played the game while wearing black thick rimmed glasses, was an all-around athlete in high school having hit the hardwood while also participating in golf and  track and field.

The sport of ice hockey was out of the picture.

"I played hockey for a while but there were only two indoor arenas back then and we played outside most of the time. I decided to play basketball as it was warmer inside."

His introduction to the sport of basketball was basic.

"I can remember playing in the fifth grade. We didn't even know the rules very much. I really didn't play competitively until the ninth grade."

With little, if any, basketball provided on Canadian television, Kimmel had to find his information elsewhere.

"In those days it was the Boston Celtics and Bob Cousy more than anyone else. Wilt Chamberlain was also a name you were familiar with. I had to buy a subscription to Sports Illustrated to keep track."

Kimmel said his passion for the game was further installed by his coach Ben H. Brooks...a Canadian legend in track and field as a long jumper competing in the British Empire Games.

"He was a great influence," said Kimmel, of his coach who had gained knowledge in regards to the finer points of the game while attending Brigham Young University.

Brooks would later coach the Lethbridge Kodiaks men's basketball team from 1970 to 1976 winning four provincial titles.

A player that Kimmel looked up during his youth was University of Calgary Dino's star Lloyd Harris (1962-1963); a 6-foot-2 guard who had previously played for the Idaho State University Bengals, where he was a three-time all-conference (1955-1958).

"He was a very athletic guy, so we kind of emulated him when we played," recalled Kimmel, who was 6-foot-1 guard during his playing days.

Terry Kimmel (right)

Although his high school did not play in a regular high school sports league, the one advantage was, "That we played probably 50 games a year and we had a coach who knew his way around. We played more basketball than any of the city high schools."

Of his two years at SAIT, Kimmel recalls: "They were great times...I remember them quite well. Mount Royal was the team to beat back then. Their coach Jack Kenyon knew his way around the city and went out and recruited."

"On a personal note, I wish we would have kept track of assists as I probably would have led in that category too. We also did not have the three-point line back then."

"I was fortunate that I played every minute of every game in high school and college unless I had fouled out. I don't know if that was my stamina or stupidity on the coaches' part. I was also fortunate that I never had any serious injuries."

Kimmel would go on to coach the SAIT Trojans women's basketball team for a couple of years before shifting over to head up the men's program until 1981.

Asked of his coaching highlights, he remarked: "Highlights as a coach? Funny you asked me that.  I look back at those days and say I could have been such a better coach. It could have been better. But the highlights were the connections I had with the players."

Leaving Alberta in 1987, he remained in contact with the game by coaching and cheering on his two sons in the sport.

An avid golfer, Kimmel also made the 1976 Alberta Willingdon Golf Team . He would also set a course record of 62 at Calgary's Inglewood Golf Course  in 1973.

At 73 years young, Kimmel still hits the local community centre regularly to shoot hoops for 45 minutes in the morning.