Gordie West

2016gordiewestIn an era when most of the marquee men’s basketball players in Atlantic Canada were still American-born, Nova Scotian Gordon Merrill (Gordie) West bucked the trend and broke the mold.

As a high school senior, Gordie helped lead Liverpool High School to the NSSAF boys’ basketball championship in 1972. He was recruited to Acadia by Gib Chapman for the 1972-1973 campaign and played four seasons at Acadia: 1972-1973 and 1973-1974 and, after taking two years off, returned for 1976-1977 and 1977-1978. During his final two seasons, he served as a co-captain.

Gordie’s on-court poise and presence, intelligence and calm leadership set him apart. He was a player who could be counted on, especially when the going got tough.

Prior to his final season at Acadia, in 1977-78, head coach Dick Hunt described the 5’9” West as “the best team guard in Canada.”

Playing an increasingly important role for the Axemen as his career went on, as a freshman Gordie was part of an Axemen team that went 17-1 in the regular season and reached the conference final.

In 1973-1974, a year of distracting turmoil off the court, Acadia finished the regular season 18-2, capturing the conference championship and competing at the CIAU nationals.

Despite being asked to downplay his natural scoring ability in favour of running the offense, Gordie did have his moments. In a triple-overtime win over arch-rival Saint Mary’s, he scored 22 points and earned reviews from the media for his “incredible ball control and key baskets.”

Gordie left Acadia following the 1973-1974 season, but returned in the fall of 1976. He arrived just in time to be a vital part of two of the greatest men’s basketball teams ever fielded by Acadia.

The first of those captured the CIAU national championship in 1977. Showing little or no rust from his two-year layoff, Gordie provided veteran leadership and was the final piece of the championship puzzle.

The Axemen finished the season with 15 wins in their final 16 games, defeated St. F.X. and UPEI to capture the conference championship, then topped UPEI, Waterloo and finally Lakehead to claim Acadia’s third national title.

While all the Axemen received praise for their victory, The Chronicle-Herald’s Hugh Townsend reserved a generous share for Acadia’s humble but talented ‘court general’. Describing Gordie as “a quiet young man who leads by example,” Townsend said, “the folks in Liverpool and along the South Shore must have been bursting with pride” at the performance of their native son.

Gordie served as a captain of the 1977-78 Axemen, and made his senior season arguably his best. The Axemen repeated as conference champs and, at nationals, scored victories over Laurentian and York before falling 99-91 to Saint Mary’s in an all-Atlantic final in front of a full house at the Metro Centre.

The Acadia Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, in the athlete category, Gordie West, a quiet leader and an integral part of Acadia championship teams.