A petition to have the gymnasium at Pitt Meadows secondary school renamed in honour of the late Rich Goulet soared past 2,000 supporters in the first two days.
The Pitt Meadows Marauder Air Force Boys Alumni started the petition on change.org, and labelled it “Rename the Pitt Meadows Secondary School Gym for Coach Goulet.”
The announcement of Goulet’s passing on March 28 was met by hundreds of online tributes to the longtime Pitt Meadows coach.
One of the alumni, Doug Plumb, said Goulet devoted 50 years of his life to basketball, spent nearly 40 of those years at Pitt Meadows secondary, and built one of the most admired and successful high school basketball programs in the country.
“It would be a fitting tribute for a giant who helped shape our community and so many young lives,” said Plumb.
Plumb played for the UBC Thunderbirds, professionally in Europe, and is now the coach of the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada.
“School District 42 has the power to make this happen. We know that singling out one individual for recognition can set a precedent – but few have done more, and expected less, than Coach G,” said Plumb. “We hope that his impact on thousands and thousands of young people over his five decades coaching makes him a deserving candidate for this special recognition.”
On change.org the alumni say: “This petition calls for the gym at PMSS to be renamed for Coach Goulet. We’d probably ask for more, he easily earned it, but he wouldn’t have wanted a grander gesture; he was too humble for that.”
“So, as his former players, fellow coaches and dear friends, we ask that you consider our petition to rename the gym in honour of the greatest coach to ever pace its sidelines, preserving the legacy of excellence, selflessness and dedication synonymous with the name Goulet.”
Shihana Wewala is a Pitt Meadows parent whose two sons and daughter were all part of the basketball program, and her family believes it would be a fitting tribute, considering the work Goulet put into making sure the Marauder’s had a home gym to be proud of.
“We would really like the school to do something for him,” she said.
Wewala worked concessions, helped at the annual team banquets and supported the program in other ways, and saw first-hand how hard Goulet worked.
They worked on fundraisers selling poinsettias, chicken, cookies and more, to fund tournament trips to Hawaii, California and other places.
“He gave them such a great experience… I don’t think any other school does this,” she said. “He was the best coach ever.
“We are very close to Mr. Goulet.”
Those are the kinds of comments that have been echoing since Goulet passed away, after he succumbed to numerous health problems.
The Change.org web page is another place where people have been paying tribute.
“He was the heartbeat of that athletics department for so many decades, and honouring his service and volunteerism to that school by putting his name on the gym only seems like the right thing to do,” said Todd Jordan, the coach of the UNBC men’s basketball team.
“This man built Pitt Meadows basketball from the ground up, and like other gymnasiums across BC, the Pitt Meadows gym should be named after the GOAT (greatest of all time) himself, said Chase Roper.
A burial service will take place on Friday, April 9 at 1 p.m. Covid restrictions mean numbers will be limited, and family will be inviting a small circle of people. They will have a more open celebration of life reception once the public health orders allow for it.
School Board chair Korleen Carreras responded that the board has a policy on naming facilities, and it must be equitable.
“Throughout SD42’s history, there have been countless amazing educators, coaches, and staff members who have each made an impact in their own way, including recent recipients of the Loran Teachers Building Leaders Award, the B.C. Teacher-Librarians Association award and the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, among other recognitions,” said Carreras. “With only a limited number of buildings, properly honouring these contributions through the naming of facilities would be a challenge.
“We aren’t surprised by the tremendous support Rich Goulet continues to have both in basketball and our local community. We recognize the impact he has had on athletes in British Columbia and appreciate the desire to honour his legacy,” she said, adding the board supports establishing a scholarship in his name, and would administer it.
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