Builders of the Program

Tim F.
Image attribution: Hawkeye7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tim Frick

“Anyone can learn…the tactics and the strategies, but it takes a really incredible approach to coaching to be able to make a difference in the lives of the athletes that you’re associated with.”

tim frick

Wheelchair Basketball at Douglas

Tim came to Douglas in 1986, initially starting as a contract worker for the SPSC department before eventually becoming a regular faculty member.

During his first year at the College, Tim established an extra-curricular wheelchair basketball club program as part of Douglas Athletics. The program started with Tim successfully persuading a single wheelchair user on campus to try the sport, and eventually gained traction as people from the community began joining and taking interest. It also offered opportunities for people from G. F. Strong who have been injured, as well as high school students who used chairs, to come learn about the sport and using wheelchairs for fitness. Eventually, the club program expanded competitively into playing within the local BC and Lower Mainland leagues, with the provincial leagues following soon after. Under Tim’s guidance, the Douglas College Royals won several national championships at the pinnacle of its competitive career.

As the wheelchair basketball program initially came into existence, its motions automatically lent itself to the faculty acquiring wheelchairs. Together with Alan, Tim put forth a grant application to the John Hardie Mitchell Family Foundation, which donated wheelchairs in support of the program. Tim used the chairs for both the after-curricular program and for enriching classroom learning. In his course PE 300 (The Analysis of Performance in Team Sports), he would include adaptive sports, such as wheelchair basketball and goalball, as part of the learning curriculum. Wheelchairs were practically incorporated into these adaptive classes, and were brought into classrooms to prompt awareness for accessibility and inclusion.

Wheelchair basketball at Douglas, 1997

Men’s wheelchair basketball, Sept. 2000
Women’s wheelchair basketball, Sept. 2000

National Team Coach

Before his time at Douglas, Tim had already led an illustrious coaching career: amongst his many accomplishments, he has coached Rick Hansen, Terry Fox, track in the 1980 and 1984 Paralympics, Langara Volleyball to international championships, and soccer to provincial medals.

When Tim was approached about becoming head coach for the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team in the winter of 1989, he agreed, intending to only stay for a year to get the team going. However, in a turn completely different from his initial plan, Tim ended up acting as the national team coach from 1990 up until 2009.

“After 1990 we had so much fun [that] I said: ‘Well, okay, I’ll stick around to Barcelona ’92.’ …[A]nd then for some strange reason I ended up sticking around right through until 2009 [laughs].”

Tim, on his duration as national team coach

Along the way, Tim and the national team won one bronze at the 1990 World Championships, three consecutive golds at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Paralympic Games, and four consecutive championship titles at the 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006 IWBF World Wheelchair Basketball Championships. Douglas College, throughout this process, often became the site for the national team’s training camps.

Read how Tim integrated the national team’s training camps with the SPSC courses here.

Read more about Tim’s remarkable coaching history here and here.

Personal Philosophy

Like many other members of the faculty, Tim was part of the effort in bringing the Coaching Diploma (1994), the SPSC Diploma (1999), the Graduate Diploma in Physical Education (2005), and the BPEC degree (2007) to fruition. He retired shortly after the establishment of the BPEC program, but occasionally makes guest appearances in classes.

“I retired before the BPEC program really got going…it would’ve been a dream of mine to be an instructor in that program.”

tim, on the BPEC degree

Personal Philosophy

On his personal philosophy for aspiring coaches, Tim’s advice remains the same as it did back in the days of the Coaching Diploma: remembering that you’re coaching people first and the sport second. He recalls the time after he was appointed to the Order of Canada:

“It’s amazing how memories of wins and losses sort of fade, but memories of relationships and positive changes in people’s lives…stay on. …I got hundreds of messages from former athletes and students [after being appointed to the Order of Canada], and you know…none of them mentioned how neat it was to win a gold medal or get an A+ or something [laughs]. They all talked about the difference – what we did in that time, made in people’s lives and how they’ve gone on and shared that approach…It’s really heartwarming to know that the ‘people first’ approach really works.”

tim, on the importance of connecting with those you coach

Tim retired from Douglas in March 2009, after roughly two decades of his contributions to the prestige and building of the SPSC faculty and the College.

“It’s amazing how memories of wins and losses sort of fade, but memories of relationships and positive changes in people’s lives — those memories stay on.”

Tim, on connecting with those you coach