Former Medway Park Crusaders Head Coach, James Vear, continues with his blog from overseas (University of Dalhousie, Canada). Vear left the UK about a month ago, and will be regularly updating us with his experiences and life abroad. You can check his first blog entry here. Over to James:
After a 6 hour flight (and only 5 minutes in Canadian immigration!) I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I walked out of the airport to be met by my new boss, John Campbell, and instantly noticed the weather is definitely like England!
It was raining, like any other typical summers day I’m used to; little did I know Halifax was actually having one of its best summers on record – since that day I don’t think it has rained, being in the mid-eighties most days.
Over the first few days I got the chance to settle in, see a bit of Halifax and see the facilities I would be working at for the year. The Dalhousie Tigers play at a facility called the Dalplex (picture above) – by their own admission it’s not the newest facility – but it has lots of character and is a great place to play basketball, with 3 full size courts, a huge weights room and swimming pool all on the same site. We also have another practice court at a different location on campus where both the men’s and women’s team are scrimmaging twice a week during our pre-season.
During my first week in Halifax I accompanied John, his wife, and two kids, to soccer practice before the men’s team scrimmage later in the evening. When I got there, I was shocked to see close to 500 young kids all playing soccer on Dalhousie’s astroturf soccer pitch. After talking to some of the parents it became apparent that all kids here play sport and not just one sport, but loads of them!
I don’t have kids myself, but I’ve never seen this in the UK, especially kids participating in so many different sports. Sports taking place at Dalhousie over the summer include basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, hockey, track & field, badminton, climbing, lacrosse, junior Leadership and many, many more. I Googled some of the UKs best known sports universities and found very little, if not any, sports camps for kids – something I hope changes – especially for basketball, as that’s when we need to get kids interested in the sport, waiting till kids are in secondary school is too late in my opinion.
The next day I went along to the Dalplex to watch some of the girls’ basketball camp taking place and to familiarise myself a bit more with the campus. One of the first things I noticed walking around was our other practice court was being used by some local people to play pick up, I walked in and watched for a while and realised that this court was never locked up and people could come in and pretty much whenever they wanted.
I’ve started to see the huge amount of outdoor courts there are here in Halifax. This is something I think that has a huge effect on basketball in the UK – a lack of accessibility to courts. Now, I’m not sure leaving facilities open all the time is the answer, but I think we need to look at putting up more outdoor baskets. I know that playing on my outdoor hoop is where me and my two brothers learnt, and truly fell in love with the game.
My second week here I was tasked with taking individual workouts for some of the team; this would be the first time I would get to interact with the team and to get to know them. Early on in the workouts I could see we have some talented players and some willing to work very hard to get better. All the players will filter back this week and we are getting close to the start of full training.
We have just had confirmed a trip to New York to play against NCAA Division 1 team Rider who have English born Tom Pereira on their roster. We’re also playing in the Carleton University Tournament where we will play against GB U20 coach Dave Smart’s Carleton, the current national champions, and two other CIS teams.
I am looking forward to our first week of practice coming up and helping run our kids camp and specialist shooting camp starting soon. My next blog installment should have a lot more basketball specific chat in it as we will have started full training then and should be into pre-season.
As always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @coachvear on twitter.