In 2012, coaches John Devlin, John Commins and Colin Throness decided they had enough talent between their two alternative schools, Perspectives I and II, to enter a basketball team into the GMAA’s top division. The “Perspectives Pit Bulls” only managed one victory that season, but the next year, with the addition of Options II coach Paul Berry, they approached the GMAA about opening the team up to other Outreach schools. The proposal was accepted and the “Alternative United Pit Bulls” were born.
The team pulled players from five different alternative schools and again entered the GMAA’s top division. While they didn’t have a gym big enough to host home games, they made a name for themselves as a passionate, scrappy squad that never quits, going on to reach the quarterfinals.
In 2014, Gatorade found a Montreal Gazette article about the team and contacted them about making a promotional video. That fall, Gatorade produced the video just as the team was gearing up for the season ahead. Upon its release, the video quickly went viral, getting over a million views. The media coverage around Alternative United blew up: CBC, Global, Sportsnet Central, Breakfast Television and the Gazette all did stories about the team’s growing success. The year’s triumph was accentuated by Gatorade’s gift to the team for making the video—a trip to Toronto to watch the Raptors play from the comfort of a luxury suite.
In the following years, the coaches and other Outreach staff continued to build on Alternative United’s momentum, organizing fundraisers and often registering two basketball teams, as well as boys and girls futsal teams. In 2016, Alternative United launched “Voices”, a yearly creative writing contest and anthology open to all Outreach students. The contest was an instant success, bringing in over 70 writing submissions. In the following years, with the help of visual arts teacher Heather Hardie, the publication took on a new allure, with captivating cover art and a stunning visual arts section. The contest also now brings on yearly guest judges, allowing the students to meet and mingle with the likes of magician and literary scholar, Joseph Culpepper, and famous local writers such as Helen Chau Bradley and Heather O’Neill.
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