Richard J. “Richie” Spears- 1964

…a basketball Axeman whose talents compared to the nation’s best.

“Richie” Spears, a 1964 graduate of Acadia, must be rated as one of the finest Nova Scotia-born athletes ever to play the game of basketball.

The Cape Breton native experienced an outstanding high school career in the game before coming under the influence of the astute Stu Aberdeen in the early sixties.

As an Axemen he made his debut during the ’61-62 season as the Aberdeen men won the Bluenose Classic while in competition against Hussen and Norwich -with Richie sharing offensive heroics with Peter Simmonds. In playoff action that year against Dalhousie, Richie accumulated sixty-six points in the Axemen’s 86-40 and 71-44 victories. In a close series loss to St. F.X., he and Charlie Thomas recorded the impressive numbers.

The ’62-63 season -in which Richie was the top scorer in Canadian intercollegiate ball -saw the Axemen break St. F.X.’s long monopoly of the Maritime title. In registering victories by scores of 57 -55 and 56-24, Spears shared the spotlight with Thomas and Jim Kreutzer. In the Maritime finals they ousted St. Dunstan’s by scores of 76-37 and 65-44 and naturally enough Richie was a top scorer.

At the Nationals hosted by the University of Windsor, the top-ranked Axemen were joined by Assumption, UBC and Loyola. In a 55-36 triumph over the British Columbia school, Spears garnered twenty-two points. In the series against Assumption the Axemen ran out of miracles.

Comments reflecting praise followed the basketballers’ near miss: “To us they are No.1.”

“Richie Spears -‘Mr. Automatic’ -is one of the finest players in Canada”.

For the record, Mr .Spears was selected as the tournament’s MVP and an all-star.

The ’63-64 Axemen, playing their home games at the KCA gym in Kentville, had another outstanding .team as Richie was joined by Steve Konchalski, Dave Rode, John Olinto and Andy Kranek. Following victories over St. F.X and Mt. Allison in Maritime Playoff action, the Axemen bowed to very stiff competition in National play.

Richie was later drafted by St. Louis Hawks in ’66, but opted, however, to play for Canada’s National team. He turned to coaching in the seventies, leading Dawson College of Montreal to National Small College Championships. Later he coached the Laurentian Women’s Team to a national power and later directed the San Diego State University women’s squad.