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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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