A Little Humber Heights Influence on The Toronto Raptors?

Residents take in their first live pro basketball game, thanks to Albert Sese

By Kristian Partington

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a little bit of Jean Berry’s influence at work in the fantastic showing the Toronto Raptors have had in their playoff run this spring. It’s nice to think so anyways.  

Humber Heights team member Albert Sese along with Jean Berry and
her fellow Raptors fans prepare to take in a game in mid-April.

Jean has been a basketball fan all her life, despite the fact that the school in the little town in rural Quebec where she grew up was too small for a gymnasium. She would read about the game in the Sherbrooke Daily Record, she says, picturing the delicate balance of power and agility through the words of sports writers, and when she was old enough, she moved to Sherbrooke where she learned the game firsthand.

However, it wasn’t until this year, just before the playoffs kicked off, that she was able to witness some of the game’s greatest players in live action when she saw the Raptors square off against the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-April. Three fellow residents from the Village of Humber Heights and one eager recreation team member, Albert Sese, joined her for what she says was an amazing experience, if not a little overwhelming.

“I was trying to concentrate on the plays developing but it’s hard to do with so much going on,” she says with a laugh. The speed of the game is almost amplified live, and the pulse of the crowd adds an energy that can’t quite be captured through the television broadcasts, which Jean rarely misses.

Albert revelled in the opportunity to deepen his relationships with Jean and the other four residents by sharing this experience with them, he says. They all have a deep passion and love for the game in common, and when they walked into the Air Canada Centre that April evening, all wearing their hometown colours, they turned more than a few heads.

After the game, high school students and Toronto police officers wanted to take pictures alongside these older fans, Albert says, as he smiled with quiet, humble pride knowing he helped make a memorable experience happen.

“I’ve been to many basketball games, including some of the playoff games this year,” he says, “but this one was different in the fact that this was more of an experience for the residents rather than for myself, and you could really see that in their faces throughout the whole experience.”

Jean says she can’t express in words what it means to her and the others to know that Albert would go to such effort to organize this experience. “It meant a lot, it really did,” she says, and now she’s eagerly soaking up the playoff run, hoping to see a championship come Toronto’s way.

Maybe, just maybe, her influence remains with the team.