What are some traditions or good luck charms that Team Canada has used?
David Eng (left) and Paul Bowes retrieve a lucky loonie from the basketball net after Canada won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games
“The lucky loonie ritual began when Trent Evans, a Canadian icemaker during the 2002 Olympics, buried a loonie under centre ice. When both men’s and women’s hockey teams won gold the loonie was given to the Hockey Hall of Fame after it was recovered by Wayne Gretzky. It’s been a Canadian tradition at international winter sporting events and after its success, it’s moved onto to summer sports as well.
I got the idea from the 2002 Olympics.
Upon our arrival in the Paralympic Village in Athens in 2004, all members of the Canadian Team were given lucky loonies in their welcoming packages. It was at that time that I acquired another lucky loonie and during our pre-tournament practice on the main court, I made the best of our only chance to see the court and inspect the baskets at either end of the floor. On occasion, the baskets are either not straight, are too low or not secured very well. As part of the inspection and unknown to anyone else, athletes or staff, I stuck two loonies on two separate pieces of duct tape and quietly slid them under the basket. Needless to say it brought us luck (Team Canada won its second consecutive Paralympic gold medal in 2004) and I retrieved the loonies.
As head coach of the Team Canada at the World Championship in 2006, I again covertly slid a loonie under each basket standard. It proved to be lucky as well as the Canadian men won their first and only World Championship to date.
Loonies were also placed under the basketball nets at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, where Canada won silver. It was the only time the loonies weren’t recovered. We came second, so somewhere in China there are two hoops with loonies under them as I didn’t retrieve those.
At the London 2012 Paralympics it took a bit more work to continue the tradition. Because of tight security, it was difficult to place the two loonies under the nets. I originally tried during the team’s only on-court session on the main court before the games started, but security were located on either side of the nets, so there were four people to get by and that made it impossible.
I kept trying to find a good time to do it and then assistant coach Christian LaSerra, never one to let things slide, paraded me onto the court after our second game and we were marched right back off the floor. It was too funny. Christian pleaded with security that we just wanted some pictures, but we were turned away.
It wasn’t until after their third round robin game against Poland, an 83-65 win, that Christian came up with a plan to create a diversion by asking the cameramen at each end of the court to not film the team’s chalkboard during timeouts. With the loonie stuck to duct tape, I then leaned over the middle of the basket, slid my hand under the support placing the loonie and added my thanks to the cameramen before doing the same thing at the other end of the court. Christian’s plan had worked. The perseverance paid off, as both loonies were strategically placed.
During the tournament, star Canadian player David Eng and I were walking along a back corridor in the stadium and he looked at me and said “did you do it” with that look in his eye. I knew he meant had we placed loonies again this year. My response was “did what?” He knew I knew what he was talking about but neither of us mentioned it as it might tarnish the luck and symbolism. He said “you know”. I again replied to him that “you just never know”. He left satisfied I think that the tradition had continued.
After the gold medal victory, I found team captain David Eng and told him to reach under the basket to retrieve one of the coins. He shouted “I knew you did it”. I also looked for five-time Paralympic veteran Dave Durepos but he wasn’t around so I took the coin out myself and gave it to Dave for a keepsake. So those coins are now in the hands (at least I hope they didn’t spend them) of those two players. They must have worked as we took the gold against Australia 64-58.
It’s just something we have fun with, luckily we have a great team and programme that has a shot to win a gold medal.”
– Paul Bowes, Assistant Coach – Team Canada Men