Bob Tomiuck remembered as key volunteer

A key cog was missing at last week’s 65th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.

Long-time committee member Bob Tomiuck passed away before Christmas and his absence was keenly felt.

“We are going to miss him dearly,” tournament co-chair Don Larman said. “He was a great asset to the community as well as to our tournament.”

Bob Tomiuck. SUPPLIED PHOTO

In Tomiuck’s honour, the tournament has established a bursary in his name, The Sixth Man Award, and there was a moment of silence at the tournament’s 8 PM game on Friday at Notre Dame.

Tomiuck was truly the tournament’s sixth man.

Bob was very energetic behind the scenes,” Larman said. “He did a lot for the tournament. He volunteered his time and he may not have been in the forefront, but Bob was always willing to do the heavy lifting in the background and he didn’t want any accolades for it. He just wanted to get the job done and do what was good for the tournament and the community.”

A carpenter by trade, Tomiuck built the Trib tourney draw board that hangs in the foyer at Notre Dame during the tournament and the tournament trophy case that is displayed in the Seaway Mall.

The Notre Dame alumnus was a member of the all-star selection committee since 1997 and a member of the overall committee since 2007.

“It was a huge part of his life and that was his limelight,” said Brock women basketball coach Mike Rao, a former Notre Dame teacher and boys basketball coach and a long-time friend of Tomiuck’s. “It was his time to shine and he did.”

Every Tribune tourney, Rao would help Tomiuck set up the draw board. Over the Christmas break, he and a few others got the board ready for 2020.

“I have known him for 27-28 years but he has been a huge part of my family for the last 22 years,” he said.

When Rao first took over as head coach at Notre Dame, Tomiuck came in to talk to him.

“He was making sure that I was on the right track,” he said. “Bob put his heart and soul into basketball and whatever he could do, he did.”

Most Saturday mornings, Tomiuck would come to Rao’s house and the two would talk about life and basketball.

“Our discussions ranged all over the place and sometimes we talked and sometimes we yelled at each other” Rao said, with a laugh. “Bob was a funny guy and a great guy at heart. He was a part of my family and I trusted Bob with anything and everything.”

Rao remembers Tomiuck always having a pencil behind his left ear.

“I have pencils at my house that were his and I have one that I keep here [at Brock],” he said. “It was probably one of the last ones he used.”

Tomiuck attended all the games at Notre Dame and started attending Brock home and away games when Rao took over the team.

“I am just so used to seeing him across the court and he never missed a game.”

In addition to his involvement with the Trip tourney, Tomiuck  was a member of the Niagara District Basketball Referee Association from 1994 until 2019. He became an Ontario Association of Basketball Officials member in 1995 and was selected as rookie of the year that same year. In 1997, he became an International Association of Approved Basketball Officials member, and in 2003, he was selected as the recipient of the Mike Mitruk Award. The award is given to a member of the NDBRA who has made a significant contribution to youth basketball.

Tomiuck served on the NDBRA executive for several years in various positions in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2007, including advisory committee member, assistant secretary and vice president.

Bob’s son, Ben, was also a referee and the two were able to officiate together in the Tribune tournament.

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