The next 40 years of the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament (DIVT) kicks off on Oct. 25 in Dawson City. The DIVT celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018 with a special mass assembly to honour the years of success and the two teachers who started the whole thing. Roberta Joseph, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Chief, thanked all the staff and volunteers, present and past, who have made this event possible every year. “Their ideas continue on today. This is a positive activity that we all get to share together.”

“The DVIT has been the Yukon’s number one volleyball competition for 40 years,” said Wayne Potoroka, mayor of Dawson City. “And a big reason is the out-of-town players and coaches and guests who liven up our streets and our community for the next few days.

“This tournament isn’t because the school needs it to happen. It’s because good people want it to happen.”

From Whitehorse, Peter Grandmanis, long-time coach of the F.H. Collins Warriors, spoke next. “On behalf of the literally thousands of students and coaches that have come through this tournament–sometimes I see them in Tim Hortons, or restaurants and we reminisce and often their favourite memory is of coming to Dawson. They cherish those days that they spent in Dawson.”

On behalf of all those people, he presented a plaque to the organizers of this year’s event. Destined for the trophy case in the hall, it read: “1979 to 2018: 40 Years. Thanks for the memories.”

“Forty years ago, Peter Cassidy and Bob Sutherland came up with this idea to allow rural kids to play competitive ball before they went to the championships in Whitehorse,” said Melissa Flynn, vice-principal at Robert Service School. Flynn graduated here in 1998 after playing all through her high school years.

“Bob came up with the idea,” said Cassidy, who was teaching in Mayo at that time. “He had students who wanted to go play in the big city.”

Cassidy joked that his students and Sutherland’s needed to learn which ball was the volleyball and how to set up the nets. Once persuaded to bring his players to Dawson, that was the beginning of the events.

“We were always guaranteed coming to Dawson there would be two things: cold weather (I don’t know what’s happening this year), and awfully good volleyball.”

He noted that it has become a generational thing and that it was fantastic to see people he had known as student players now leading their schools and coaching. Stephanie Cayen, another RSS grad and former player now on staff, noted that those early years had been just rural schools, but after Cassidy moved to Whitehorse, the city schools began to get involved.

“Throughout the years, students from all over the Yukon have participated in and enjoyed DIVT,” she said. “And when we began planning the 40th anniversary celebrations, we heard many wonderful stories.”

Quite a bit of this material can be viewed or read on the Facebook site: Dawson City RSS Volleyball DIVT 40th.

Flynn called Cassidy and Sutherland to the front of the crowd to present them with some memorial gifts, including a 40th anniversary T-Shirt and an inscription on a memorial plaque to be installed in the gym.
It reads “In appreciation, Bob Sutherland and Peter Cassidy. We wish to express our gratitude for creating the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament in 1979, bringing Yukon students together to play competitive volleyball. Over the past decades, DIVT has become a highlight in every volleyball player’s year. Thank you for your dedication and advocacy for our communities.

Yukon athletes honoured by Sport Yukon