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LETTER: Remembering mentor and great friend to eastern U.P.

Dave Bourgeault of Kinross was highly involved in students’ lives for years as coach, official, sporting goods store owner and story teller
Dave Bourgeault

SooLeader received the following letter to the editor from reader Brian Maki about a well-known member of the local sports community who passed away in 2022.

On May 4, 2022, the eastern side of Upper Peninsula lost a great friend in the MHSAA family.

Many may not know that Louis David “Dave” Bourgeault (1948-2022) of Kinross was highly involved in students’ lives in the Rudyard area for years.

With a degree in physical education from Westchester University, Dave led by example. His positive spirit was contagious, and he was always willing to give his time for any cause.

He didn’t drink or smoke and held true to those values throughout his life. He was known to many in the area as the “bike guy.”

This was obvious, because he owned Pro Sports in Sault Ste. Marie from 1982 to 2022.

His life was built around sports, giving to his community, coaching high school and college basketball teams, mentoring students, and being a funny, insightful man.

And, if you wanted a great story, Dave was there to administer an amazing tale or two from his private bible of sports experiences.

I first met Dave in 1995 at a basketball tournament in Marquette, Mich. Like fate would have it, Dave and I clicked together like two old friends (although we had a 22-year age difference).

His off-beat humor and common-sense insights helped build my own confidence in officiating over the course of my 26-year friendship with him.

Whether it was outdoor tournaments like the infamous Red Hacker, summer camps, AAU tournaments, or regular high school games on the eastern side of the U.P., he offered me plenty of great game experiences when no one else would.

Dave Bourgeault was my mentor, supporter, and a good friend.

Dave’s most famous story was that of him attending an NBA game on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where Wilt Chamberlain set the NBA single-game scoring record by dropping 100 points. He said that many fans had left early, but 2,000 people were left to witness Wilt’s historic game.

With a smile on his face, Dave argued the scorebook staff had “cooked the books” in order to make Chamberlain look good. Supposedly, Chamberlain shot 36-for-63 from the field and 28-for-32 from the foul line.

Of all the greatest games, Dave was the luckiest man to witness this one. He was also gutsy to challenge its outcome.

Our first varsity basketball game together was in 1996 in Sault Ste. Marie. At 25 years old, this was my first boys’ varsity game.

Beforehand, he asked me, “You want to be the official?” He added, “You make all final judgments in the game. It’s no big deal, really.”

I agreed. With eight seconds left in the game, and standing room only, the home team made three passes, and shot a three-pointer for the win. Of course, it went in. The crowd went crazy. Yet, I was all alone, blowing my whistle.

“No good!” I screamed. During the play, the clock had gone out. I had six seconds on my hand before the timeline, and with three more passes, it was improbable the basket was good.

After further review, I declared the game over. We were police-escorted out of the gym.

After playing cards for a while, I asked Dave how I did. He leaned over and said, “Hey, you evaluated the situation, gathered information, and did the right thing. No big deal, right?”

We laughed all the way to the parking lot.

Throughout the years, Dave always supported and believed in me. Through everything. Either good or bad. Like fate would have it.

Brian Maki, IT consultant and MHSAA registered official