By Jay McNeilly
When that final horn sounded to signify a goal, it was one of the most gratifying sounds I’d ever heard. We had succeeded in bringing home the first ever CCAA basketball championship trophy in school history. Merely a week before we won the OCAA championship which had not been accomplished in more than 30 years.
Being surrounded by family, friends and colleagues made those accomplishments that much more meaningful. Being able to successfully represent the character, leadership and excellence of Seneca College has been one of the greatest highlights of my coaching career.
Taking over as Head Coach of such a solid foundation – one which I helped to lay, but that was orchestrated by Coach Darrell Glenn – was as exhilarating as it was intimidating. I knew I would face many challenges in this new role. A role which saw me immediately having to become accustomed to the different landscape of the league. As Head Coach, the interaction between myself and referees, administrators, players etc. had changed. The boost to my ego very quickly took a back seat to the sudden awareness of the responsibilities that came with the new position.
Efficiently managing the production of the coaching staff and our student athletes on and off the court was one of the biggest challenges I would face. Besides having the final say in tough choices like who to recruit, there were even tougher choices like what our culture represented and what our off court beliefs were. These were the on court decisions I would now bear the weight of and they would determine our trajectory on the path to victory or defeat.
Another challenge I knew we would face was time, or rather a lack of time. At our very first coaches meeting, we started a list and realized that this multitude ideas may not fit into one season. When the opportunity to become head coach becomes available, you want to take every idea you’ve ever had about what you would do if the opportunity ever presented itself and cram it into whatever time you have.
Thinking back to where we were a year ago, the main thing that comes to mind is how grateful I am to to be a part of the continued legacy and rich school spirit of Seneca College. A phenomenal group of student athletes allowed us to coach them; they were open to on and off the court lessons that we drilled into them weekly. The relationship between player and coach enabled all parties to grow and develop in our respective roles.
But but the learning went both ways. The growth and development of the coaching staff as they willingly faced new assignments and responsibilities has been immensely rewarding. We can only hope the seeds we planted will take hold and that we would see the rewards down the road five to 10 years from now.
What is still really satisfying is hearing and seeing the ripple effect of some of the ‘life lessons’ we introduced and knowing they imprinted upon the players. One of the first lessons was that being on time meant arriving early and arriving on time meant you were late. Another lesson demanded being a fountain and not a drain.
Our final challenge after setting the bar so high in our first year as new coaches is how do we outdo ourselves?