Many of the organizers and volunteers are looking at the departure of the provincial AA basketball championships like proud parents sending a child off to college.
Yes, there is plenty of sadness, but also a lot of pride.
The championships wrapped up a successful 15-year-run in Kamloops on Saturday with the Surrey-Holy Cross Crusaders winning the girls title and the Kelowna Christian Knights taking the boys title. The AA tournament is expected to be moved to the Lower Mainland in 2014 as part of a consolidation of all the provincial basketball championships.
That leaves Kamloops, which has been home to the AA girls championship since 1998 and both the girls and boys tournaments since 1999, out in the cold.
"It's been amazing," said Dionne Newman, who has been volunteering at the tournament since 1998. "It's sad that it's going, but it's bittersweet. We're tired right now, but it's only for a couple days a year and we love seeing the kids come and enjoy it."
This year's tournament, like most of the rest, ran without a hitch and the games generally started and ended on time - an impressive feat for a tournament this size.
For four days every year, Kamloops was home to 32 teams - 16 in each draw - each with one thing in mind: a provincial title. And while that was the goal of the 380 or so players who stepped on the floor, the goal of the hundreds of volunteers was to simply allow the athletes to focus on basketball.
One volunteer likened the tournament to a duck on water - while everything looked smooth on the surface, that was only because of all the work going on underneath. And the legs of this tournament were its volunteers.
"They book their holidays around this time," said Lindsey Karpluk, one of the tournament's co-directors. "Retired people, they'd come back from Phoenix so they could be here for four days and help out. And you think about the student volunteers, TRU students . . . it truly has been a community event. The whole community has been behind this."
Kamloops played host to the provincial AA girls championship in 1993, with the Westsyde Whundas winning at what was then known as the University College of the Cariboo.
The girls tournament came back to town in 1998, with Westsyde as its host and UCC as its venue. The following year, the boys tournament joined up, and the tournament was held at both UCC and Riverside Coliseum.
In 2008, it moved up to the Tournament Capital Centre, whose two courts made it a perfect venue for such a tournament.
"This schedule (at the TCC) has been phenomenal," Karpluk said. "We couldn't have carried on with that other schedule."
Over the years, the names changed - UCC is TRU and Riverside Coliseum is Interior Savings Centre - but most of the volunteers stuck around.
"It's only for a couple of weeks a year, and it's well worth it," Newman said.
Newman was pretty typical of the average volunteer at provincials.
A teacher at Westsyde secondary, she would take three days off work so she could spend long hours in a gymnasium, doing whatever was asked. Like the rest, she didn't get paid, didn't have a title, and didn't mind at all.
"It's amazing. We have a great group of volunteers," Newman said. "The committee is like a second family - unfortunately, we only work together for one week a year."
In the end, there wasn't a lot of thanks for all the hard work these people put in - a few teams dropped off thank-you cards, and Karpluk and fellow co-director Brian Peters got a standing ovation during Saturday's awards ceremony - but few, if any, of the volunteers minded.
They would, however, like to think they made a difference on the basketball community, which was what Bob Bridges and Jack Buckham had in mind when they brought the tournament to town and Buckham ran it for three years.
"I think it's kind of raised the bar for basketball in the community," Karpluk said. "I look at all the Sa-Hali teams, all of the Brocklehurst and Clearwater teams that got to compete at a high level and improve themselves. I think the level of basketball for boys and girls has risen because of that."
For the girls tournament, the 15 years in Kamloops could be known as the York House years, as the Vancouver-based Tigers won eight titles and appeared in three other finals. The Vancouver-Little Flower Academy Angels appeared in six finals here - losing each time . The Whundas were the only Kamloops team to appear in a AA final over the past 15 years, losing to the Tigers in 2004.
The past five seasons have been good for Vernon teams, with three separate squads appearing in girls finals. The Kalamalka Lakers won in 2009, beating the Tigers, with the Clarence Fulton Maroons losing to York House the next year and the Vernon secondary Panthers losing to Holy Cross on Saturday.
The boys tournament never really had a dominant team like York House, although the Victoria-Lambrick Park Lions won three straight tournaments from 2002-04. Okanagan teams won the tournament three of the past five years, with the Oliver-Southern Okanagan Hornets winning in 2009 and 2011, and Kelowna Christian wrapping up its first AA title on Saturday.
There was plenty of exciting basketball throughout, which no doubt brought smiles to the faces of the volunteers and organizers - and to the fans who showed up, even if they didn't have a dog in the fight.
But ask any volunteer and he or she will tell you that the lasting memory will be the long hours and lack of sleep.
"When we used to have just two courts (at Riverside and UCC), we would have games every morning at 8:30," Karpluk said. "At the coliseum, that meant getting up, especially on the first day, being there at 5 o'clock to tape the floor together because there were so many cracks. And if you had any overtime games, you were there until 11:30 p.m., and doing it again the next day.
"But that leaves lasting memories, and we were talking the other day - we could have been the duct tape champions for about four straight years there."