There’s a tradition at GW Graham.
When a player in any sport commits to a college or university, a table is set up at one end of the gym.
The player sits at the table with their commitment papers, pen in hand and smile on face.
Usually, they’re photographed with one or two family members, maybe a brother/sister too if they go to GWG.
Then there’s Geevon Janday.
On the day the hoops star signed his papers to go to Dalhousie University in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, he brought several branches of the family tree.
“There’s my sister and my two grandparents on my mom’s side, my other sister and my mom,” Janday said, looking at the photo (see right). “Coach (Jake) Mouritzen in the middle, then my grandpa, my dad, my younger brother and my grandma.
“I’ve had so much family support over the years and it only felt right to have them there for that moment.”
There’s a story behind this picture.
Geevon’s mom, Babita, was really into basketball in high school and had the potential then to do what he is doing now.
“All my aunts tell me she was top of her high school team, like I was, and there was a possibility for her to move on to the next level, but she wasn’t given the opportunity,” Geevon explained. “Back then, her parents, my grandparents, told her that her job was to get an education, and sports were just a fun thing to do in high school and not something to be taken seriously.
“So in a way, I’m living out this post-secondary dream not just for myself but for my mom, who didn’t have the opportunity that I have.
Geevon’s grandparents may not have been all in on basketball when Babita was coming up, but they’ve been fully invested in Geevon’s journey.
Though they live in Surrey they’ve been at dozens of his games, watching and cheering and lifting him up just by being there.
“It’s a big thing that my grandparents now realize how much it (basketball) can do for a person’s development,” Geevon said. “They’ve supported me and encouraged me 100 per cent to pursue my dreams. It’s thumbs up and they want me to do it.
“Basketball is a game, but it’s done so much for me as a person.”
The impact b-ball has had on Geevon’s life can’t be overstated.
He smiles talking about the friends he’s made and the lifelong connections that have been forged on and off the court.
“Before I started playing basketball (in Grade 7) I was anxious every day at school, and when I started playing, basketball helped calm me down,” Geevon said. “When I first came to GW Graham it was tough because I didn’t know anybody, but again, all that stress went away on the court.
“Basketball has taught me how to persevere through hard times, get knocked down and stand back up.
“There are so many life lessons that I’ll take with me wherever I go.”
Including across Canada.
You can’t go any further away from home that west coast to east coast.
First, Geevon had to come to grips with it himself.
He had the chance to play much, much, much closer to home. The University of the Fraser Valley had an offer on the table.
“It was one extreme or another, but for my personal growth and independence, I felt that moving away from home would be good for me,” Geevon reasoned. “I’m always going to come back in the summer so it’s not like I’m not going to be back in Chilliwack.
“But Dalhousie is really well recognized with basketball and academics, and it’s where I think I can best develop as a player and a student.”
That decided, Geevon had to tell his family.
“I hadn’t talked even to my mom too much about it because she didn’t want to influence my decision,” he recalled. “When I told her I was going to Dalhousie she was like, ‘Really? I didn’t think you had it in you to move away.’
“Not too many people would have guessed I’d choose Nova Scotia over staying local.”
Most of his family found out the morning after he returned from a visit to Dalhousie.
After a full Saturday of connecting flights to get back home, followed by very little sleep, Geevon came downstairs the next morning and dropped the news.
“All of them lit up,” he said. “They were smiling and giving me hugs and they were all supportive.
“I think my mom is definitely going to miss me a lot, but she agrees it’s best for me to make this big jump and spread my wings.”
But what about Geevon?
Will he really be okay being thousands of kilometres away?
“They’ll always be my family no matter where I move,” he said. “I’ll see them once or twice a year and we’ll still have that same connection. We’ve built that relationship and I don’t see it ever fading away.”