Sports History

The Rennes-Rochester Sister City Committee developed its first sports exchange in 1983 at the initiation of LeGris Inc., a French firm with Rochester ties. With the help of the  Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, an ice hockey team from McQuaid Jesuit High School hosted French players and organized several games and friendly competition. The French players came here in February 1983 and the McQuaid team went to Rennes over the Easter break that April.

In the fall of 1991, Rennes was hoping to find a Rochester-area boys’ basketball team of 14- and 15-year-olds to attend a tournament in Rennes the following April. The Sports Association of French Telecom (ASPTT) was having a tournament and had invited teams from Rennes’ many sister cities to come and compete. Ultimately, teams from Algeria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Ireland, and Poland played basketball against teams from France; the U.S. was represented by a local team sponsored by our own Jewish Community Center. After two days of robust competition, the Czech team prevailed; we came in third place.

In what would become standard procedure in the years to come, all players and coaches stayed with host families during their entire stay in Rennes. They would see a great deal of northern France, including Paris, Mont St. Michel, Saint Malo, and the Normandy beaches.

The ASPTT tournament has been held every two years since 1992. In 1994 and again in 2000, both McQuaid and Wilson High Schools represented Rochester with McQuaid’s team winning in 1994 against a strong Lithuanian team. Wilson and McQuaid competed for the championship in 2000 with McQuaid rallying and winning the game in a great display of American-style basketball.

In the late 1990s, Rochester’s Madison High School sent two teams to play – one in the Euro-Pacé basketball tournament for 12- and 13-year-old boys and, later, a girls’ team in the same age bracket. In 2012, Rochester was represented by an AAU team at the Euro-Pacé tournament.

In 2008 and 2010, Our Lady of Mercy High School took part in the girls’ division of the ASPTT tournament, taking second place in 2010. An AAU boys’ team from Rochester took the title in 2008.

In 2007, the Rochester Wheels (a wheelchair basketball team) traveled to Rennes in what the Rennais consider to be one of the most fruitful exchanges in our entire sister-city relationship. Accompanied by committee members Ron Dufort, Ray Griswold, and Terry Mathews-Desant, the team played against other wheelchair basketball teams from Belgium, Slovenia, and France. This event ranks as one of our proudest moments. In fact, one of the members of the Rochester Wheels, Xavier Major, took the AAU team that he coached to Rennes and won the 2008 ASPTT boys’ tournament.

The Rochester Wheels are now organizing their first international wheelchair basketball tournament, to be held in 2013. And, the Mercy girls made such a favorable impression that their French hosts are hoping to come to the U.S. to play basketball against them in 2013.