If there is a participation or experience that I miss at this time of year it is being a community volunteer as a basketball coach.
I have not coached basketball since Bawating Collegiate and Vocational School closed its doors about 10 years ago.
To be sure, coaching basketball is something that I had a passion for over a number of years.
In fact, between midget boys at Korah, Bawating and White Pines, junior and senior girls at Mount St. Joseph, White Pines and Bawating and girls at St. Mark, I would estimate the number of high school and elementary school basketball teams that I coached over the years to be more than 15 in all.
I also coached the women’s basketball team at Sault College for two years but that was a paid position rather than a volunteer effort.
At any rate, I certainly enjoyed coaching basketball locally for all of those years. Coaching the kids at the various schools was a total experience that I often think about, particularly when I happen to run across a player that I coached many years ago.
I really liked the fact that the teams I coached were known for their hard work and being well conditioned. I was never big on fancy plays (that usually don’t work) or running complicated schemes. Yes, I wanted my teams to win, but if not, there was the satisfaction of knowing they worked hard, could out run the opposition because of their conditioning, and had fun, even at practice.
I was fortunate to be a part of a junior girls championship team at Mount St. Joseph. But let me say that I had as much fun and took away as much enjoyment from coaching middle of the pack or lower end teams at both White Pines and Bawating.
That is because, win or lose, the determination and resolve of so many players and so many teams over the years made the experience of competing worth all of the volunteer time and effort.
An interesting part of my basketball coaching days also involved my daughter, Cara.
While I got to coach Cara at both St. Mark elementary school and Sault College, I actually coached against her for two years of junior hoops when I was at Mount St. Joseph and she was in Grade 9 and Grade 10 at St. Mary’s. (In a touch of irony, my team beat hers in the playoffs the first year but she got bragging rights over me the next year.)
I would love to mention the many favourite players that I coached over the years but won’t as I do not want to leave out any of the so many good ones that I might forget.
But let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed the many years of coaching basketball locally and I often think of many of the players and many of the teams.
And at this time of year, in particular, I miss the practices and the games, especially at Bawating and Mount St. Joseph, since those two schools are no longer in existence.
What I don’t miss is an athletic director who put winning above everything and an opposing coach who once took delight in running up the score with a 70-point lead.
Other than that, I miss the game, I miss the action and I miss the kids who were worth every minute of my volunteer service.