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on Thursday, 31 January 2013. Posted in Endorsements
Highland Basketball Club was formed in 1993 by Mike Stainke, John Munro, Tim Pilkington and Richard Smith and the teams were comprised of pupils from Inverness, Alness, Tain and Grantown-on-Spey, but the "Bears" moniker would only come later in the club's history. In the first two seasons, the club entered competitions under the "Tulloch Highland" name due to a sponsorship deal with Tulloch Construction Ltd. During these two seasons the club would enjoy numerous success in both league and cup competitions. Due to having one of the best facilities in Scotland at the time, Tulloch Highland Basketball Club were priviliged to host the 1996 Home Nations Tournament (U18 men) - held at Inverness Sports Centre - where a full capacity crowd (700 spectators) witnessed the Scotland vs England match. Later that year, Tulloch Highland Basketball Club received the Inverness Area Sports Council's "Club of the Year" Award.
It wasn't until the 1996/97 season that another name was introduced, firstly with an individual team sponsorship for the U-18 women's team, to compete as "Team ATC Cosmetics". Later that season the club would secure financial backing from Invergordon firm ATC Cosmetics and would enter the National League the following season as "ATC Highland", with both U16 and U18 mens teams victorious in their respective divisions. During the 1998/99 season, the U16 mens team would repeat their success and the Senior mens team would win the President's Cup for the first and last time (renamed the following season as the Chairman's Cup). In January 1999, ATC Highland Basketball Club hosted the Sunny-D Camp with over 300 children participating from the Highlands & Islands region - the third largest camp in the UK. Later that same year, John Munro was deservedly awarded the title of Inverness Area Sports Council's "Coach-Administrator of the Year". The 2001/02 season saw ATC Highland Under 16 women's team reach the final of the Scottish Cup for the first time.
At the start of the 2002/03 season, Highland Basketball Club had no sponsorship deals and none of the original coaching staff. The club entered all national league and cup competitions as Highland BC. It was also in the summer of 2002 that a new Senior men's team - the Highland Bears - were formed and comprised of ex-national league players under the guidance of Tim Pilkington and John Munro. Highland BC were awarded the task of hosting the 2003 Dobbing Cup - an international competition between Scotland and England U-15 girls teams - at Inverness Sports Centre. The Highland Bears senior men's team enjoyed a successful inaugural season, going undefeated and winning the Chairman's Cup at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. The Senior mens team would go onto a further three Chairman's Cup finals appearances in five years. During the 2005 season, the Highland Bears added another team to the roster - The "Lady Bears" - again the squad were mainly ex-national league players who played under the guidance of Judi McWhirr.
In 2006, the Senior men's team went on to secure their second Chairman's Cup win at Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh and followed that up with a one-day inivitational tournament win (the inaugural Mitie Cup) later that year at the same venue. Meanwhile, Highland BC were beginning to compete again at junior and cadet levels within the National League. Also the 2006/07 season would see the Lady Bears taste their first success in Chairman's Cup (Women), a feat that they would go on to repeat twice in the next three years. The beginning of 2008 saw Basketball Scotland appoint John Kerray as the Regional Development Officer and this helped rejuvenate the sport within the Highland region at grass-roots level, allowing the Highland Bears to add U12's and U14's teams to the roster for the 2011/12 season. In late 2008, the decision was made by Highland BC and Highland Bears to merge to form a solitary club - Highland Bears Basketball Club. The Lady Bears would go onto be crowned back-to-back Chairman's Cup winners in 2009 and 2010 and perform a unique double in 2009 by winning the Jean Findlay Memorial Trophy (Tayside & Fife Cup).
After a two-year absence for junior teams within the National Leagues, the Bears entered U-16 and U-18 men's teams in the 2009/10 season. In November 2009 Stacey MacDonald was honoured for her hard work as Basketball Scotland's "School Age Volunteer of the Year" and again was recognised in December 2010, receiving Inverness Area Sports Councils "Award for Outstanding Contribution to Sport". In November 2011 Rodger Watt received recognition for his work scooping the "School Age Volunteer of the Year" from Basketball Scotland and in early December 2011, Frazer Grant received double recognition for his hard work, honoured as both Sport Scotland’s "Highland Young Coach of the Year" and "National Young Coach of the Year".
The 2011/12 season saw the largest number of Highland Bears team's for a single season in the history of the club - In February 2012, the U14 girls team were crowned the undefeated champions of the RDL - East & Central Division, the U16 men were runner-up in National League Division 1 and the U18 Men’s team were crowned National League Division 2 champions. In March 2012, the U14 boys’ team matched the feat by remaining undefeated in the RDL - East & Central Division. Awaiting remaining fixtures to be played, the U16 women ended as runner-up in National League Division 2 at end of April 2012. The U14 boys ended the season completing the double by winning the Playoffs and extending their unbeaten record to 11-0 and the U14 girls managed the same accolade and extended their unbeaten record to 9-0. The U16 women's team ended their season as narrowly beaten finalists of the Second Division playoffs.