Last month it was announced former Medway Park Crusaders coach (and Hoopsfix summer league team coach!), James Vear, is heading to Canada to ply his trade next season. We reached out to James and he has agreed to do a monthly blog on his experiences out there – in his first, which comes a week before he leaves, he introduces himself and explains a little more about why he made the decision. Over to James!
My name is James Vear and I’ve been the Head Coach of Medway Park Crusaders men’s team for the past 3 seasons. Basketball has been a huge part of mine and my family’s life since I can remember – both of my brothers work full time in basketball and the sport has shaped all of our lives – and continues to do so as we get older.
I got into coaching at an early age when I returned from playing high school basketball in the states at WB Ray High School, Corpus Christi, Texas. My first coaching position came at the Sevenoaks Suns where I took over their boy’s teams, coaching both under 16s & 18s. This is where I first got to experiment as a coach and made the decision this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!
Having spent 4 seasons with Sevenoaks, I decided to move to another Kent team, Medway Park Crusaders, where I would get the chance to coach at their newly formed academy and be an assistant to their Division 2 men’s team.
Unfortunately the team had a poor start to the season and I was asked to take over as Head Coach at the early age of 27. Over the next 3 seasons we managed to get promotion to Division 1 winning the club’s first bit of silverware and making the D1 playoffs in our first full season.
Midway through last season, I was contacted by Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) Head Coach John Campbell, someone who I had been in touch with over the past few seasons about potential imports for Medway Park. John wanted to know about the possibility of me going over to be his assistant for 2012/13 season.
When I was offered the position I thought it was a opportunity I couldn’t turn down and accepted immediately. I looked into the different types of VISA I could apply for, and sent in an application to the Canadian Embassy (a process I was told about 8 weeks but in fact took closer to 16 weeks!).
The main reason I’ve decided to go overseas is to learn from a great coach and an established program where they work with elite players everyday. I’ve only ever been a head coach and I knew being an assistant under someone as experienced as John will help further my development.
The cost to me of coaching over here was also a factor; I live in South West London and travelling to Gillingham 3 times a week was very pricey. In Canada my main source of income and actual job will be full time assistant, not to mention that the university is also going to help with my accommodation. As coaches will know, there is a lack of paid coaching jobs and opportunities like the one I’m currently taking, especially at the elite level, here in the UK.
For anyone not familiar with Canadian college basketball, it has a similar set up to the States – Dalhousie is the equivalent of an NCAA Div1 College. Canada has some great teams and some great coaches; GB Under 20s coach Dave Smart coaches a Canadian University powerhouse called Carelton, who Dalhousie will play in our upcoming season. Coach Campbell is also Dave Smart’s assistant for the GB Under 20s.
I was lucky enough to watch a couple of the GB U20 sessions last month, which were really useful and only re-iterated my decision to head to Canada is the right one! The hiring of both Coach Smart and Coach Campbell for GB were great appointments, and I’m sure the players learned an incredible amount under their tutelage.
I am due to fly out to Halifax next week. I am excited to get over there and start pre-season with my new team. I will be doing a monthly blog about my experiences, to share what I have learnt and look at some of the differences between basketball in the UK and overseas.
If there are any questions you have, or things you’d like to see me talk about, feel free to leave a comment below, or should you want to contact me directly, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @coachvear.