Special to Bullet NewsThe late Bill Rootes has been named to the Niagara Falls Sports Wall of Fame for his contribution to basketball in the region.
“Bill was a tremendous builder and ambassador for the sport of basketball in the Niagara Region,” said Brock Director of Athletics Robert Hilson. “His vision and leadership was one of a kind, giving many young players an opportunity to excel in the sport.
“This honour is a special one. Through his dedication and hard work he continued to build the identity of basketball into what it is today in Niagara Falls.”
Rootes died in 2010 at age 61.
In 1996 under his leadership, the Niagara Falls Red Raiders Basketball Association was formed. The organization began with eight travel teams and quickly developed a reputation around the province for being a first class organization and developing powerhouse teams. Within the first five years, they won multiple provincial championships.
While Bill was president of the organization, he was instrumental in starting the novice program, offering instructional basketball to players that were too young to join any league. The Red Raiders now boasts some 30 clubs in all divisions for boys and girls.
“When the Red Raiders were formed my dad had a vision, said son Brad Rootes, head coach of the Brock Badgers men’s basketball team. “He wanted to help give kids from Niagara a chance to play basketball at the travel level and to help provide more kids with an opportunity to play basketball.
“He was fortunate enough to not only see his vision come to fruition, but also to be able to watch it grow and develop over the years as it continues to do so today. When I started playing basketball, he would always tell me stories of the great NFCVI teams lead by the Chief Jimmy Rose and talk about how talented players like Jay Triano and Greg Newton were. Billy loved the rich basketball history of Niagara Falls, and our family is very proud and grateful for him to be honoured and recognized for being a part of it.”
Bill was also the general manager of two Division 1 provincial championships with the Red Raiders (2000 and 2002), three zone and southern Ontario high school championships with the A.N. Myer Marauders (2001-2003), and a national university championship with the Brock Badgers (2008).
In 2001, Bill was presented with the Doug Austin Award, recognizing him as the sports person of the year in Niagara Falls.
“Bill was a tireless individual who helped shape and mould not only the basketball scene in Niagara Falls but in the whole Niagara Region,” said former Brock men’s basketball coach Ken Murray. “He should be commended for all that he accomplished and for all he did to help others accomplish winning provincial and national championships.”