The late Brian Upson was a stellar Thunderbird basketball player in the early 1950s and a 1953 graduate of Physical Education now referred to as Kinesiology. However, Brian is best remembered as a high school basketball coach, in fact a storied career which stands out among such careers of those from UBC.
Upon graduating from UBC Upson taught and coached at West Vancouver high school for nearly 30 years until his untimely passing in 1982. But a story still told to this day was when the gravely ill Upson coached his West Van team to the BC High School championship – a first for a North Shore school – an exciting 49 – 48 victory in what is considered by many as the most unforgettable title game in the tournament’s history.
It was the evening of March 20, 1982 that Upson, thin and gaunt yet gamely battling cancer, was cheered at the conclusion of the final game by a huge crowd of emotionally drained fans, both teams applauded for their efforts but especially for those of this one individual. By this time Upson, in a great deal of pain and defying his medical team, was confined to a wheelchair but discarded it when coaching from the bench. Unbelievably he was even able to stand for the tournament’s entire closing ceremonies. It was a competition between life and death.
According to his assistant coach “ . . . when he went home the night we won, he never got out of bed again . . . he died two weeks to the day after the final game.” A memorable event which in 2016 became the movie documentary “Long Shot” teaching us of will, endurance and courage.
Fred Hume, August 2017