23996 OCdt, IV Year – Alex Cushley (aka Cush) has been helping us out with the last few editions of e-Veritas. He has also keenly accepted the challenge of “interviewing” a number of various people around RMC. Following are two of his efforts. Hopefully, we will have similar articles from “Cush” over the next few weeks.
On his list “to do” are all the varsity coaches; a couple of “Profs”; a former Commandant; a soon to be retired Squadron Commander; and a few other to be determined personalties.
Look for him!
COACH JAMES OPTIMISTIC – PALADINS MAY WIN A GAME THIS SEASON
By: 23996 OCdt, IV Year – Alex Cushley
In sports there are two types of winners. There are the obvious ones who win a game, a league, or a championship. There are also the less apparent ones who persistently perform at a level considerably higher than their abilities would imply. These second types of winners are tough, intrepid, and proud; they hate losing, so they reach a point where they give everything they have to give.
Coach James expects to have winners of the second type for this season. Recently I have had the opportunity to meet with Coach James on the sidelines of the Paladins Home Courts, his office per se, to discuss his plans and expectations for the Paladins this season.
CUSH: What motivated you to apply and accept the job move to RMC?
COACH: Basically I was interested in coaching at this level. I had spoken to the previous coach, Kevin McGuire, among others familiar with RMC and had heard nothing but good things. I was told and what great opportunities it held, that it was a great place to work in, great people and I must say everything said has thus far been true. I decided I wanted to be a part of the basketball programs development and help it become successful.
CUSH: What are your expectations for the team’s performance this year? Future years?
COACH: 3 goals:
- I want us to work hard in every game, in every position. I want to channel those higher goals that make the members of the team, the elite who attend RMC. I want to harness that competitive spirit and apply it on the court in order to represent the team and country in the same way; with dignity.
- We need to break the goose egg from last year; win games.
- A future goal is to establish a competitive program. I haven’t come here to sit around and watch. I want us to be competitive!
CUSH: What role if any do you feel you’ll have in your players away from the basketball court?
COACH: A coach is more than a coach. He is a teacher, father figure and mentor. I believe a coach, like a squadron leader(I’m still learning the names and ranks) can have a huge impact, whether positive or negative. I obviously hope for the former.
CUSH: Assuming the best interest of the college should come first, what should come second, team? Players? Coach? Why?
COACH: I agree with you that the primary interest is for the college but after that it is team, player, coach in that order. If an athlete plays an individual sport then the circumstances are different but this is a team game.
CUSH: From your roster of last year, realizing they were winless. What does your list of recruits look like? (ie how many players are returning from an 0-22 season last year)
COACH: Five are returning. We have one new player coming in.
CUSH: Any thought on making the playoffs?
COACH: No! That is a 3 year goal. I try to be realistic and anyone who thinks otherwise may need to be drug tested. I want to be competitive, that’s all.
CUSH: I guess it would be safe to say even winning one game would be considered an improvement from last year so it would be better to set reasonable goals and see success then set goals too high and fail. Rather establish a foundation upon which success may be built?
CUSH: How do you plan on recruiting players?
COACH: Due to the timing of Coach MCGuire’s resignation external recruiting is not possible.For this season recruiting will need to come from RMC’s talent pool. Throughout the season I will be recruiting across the country. In a month I am going to the juvenile nationals in PEI and in a couple weeks to a prospect camp in Toronto. I will also be networking across the country to find players who fit the RMC mold to bring in for next year.
CUSH: How many non-cadet players do you expect in the line up?
COACH: As very little as possible. With that said I am still learning the system, and culture of RMC and must do this before I can sell RMC. To sell RMC and do the best job I can I must understand the opportunities and benefits. I want to find players that fit the college requirements and military requirements. If anyone after one year seems uninterested in the package that comes with playing here they will not return.
Coach James officially started June 23rd. With under a month under his belt his priorities seem in place and he is already on the floor getting ready for the season to come. With the first game of the season at home November 7th against the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks one victory alone would be an improvement over last years winless season. No pressure Coach!
Coach Schur – Sure About(W) B.B. Future….
21295 Brad Schur (RMC ’98) 10 years @ RMC – 5 with (M) & 5 with (W)
By: 23996 OCdt, IV Year – Alex Cushley
COACH: Some high points would be looking back to entering the men’s team into the OUA and seeing it grow and being part of that. Once again being part of the same for the women’s team has been great. These are small steps but very important. Low points would be in entering this higher level of play getting killed. Its easier for me as a coach because I can look at the long term and what we are doing for the future especially having been through it before. The difficult part is helping the players see what they are doing out there for the program and the future of RMC rather then stepping onto the court for another loss. It has also been difficult to go through this twice but having seen there is light at the end of the tunnel I stay positive.
COACH: Eight and a special circumstance. Our asst. coach is returning as a player since she is a Lt.(N) doing her post grad and has eligibility for another year.
COACH: Four and then of course there is the chance of one or two walk-ons during tryouts. I try to not rely on this as walk-ons aren’t generally as successful because they are not as focused on the basketball aspect or as interested in balancing the pillars along with varsity. Recruiting means a commitment and a desire to play at this level along with knowing the rigorous program at RMC.
COACH: I’ve been recruiting 10 years now and have found you can’t recruit “ to play basketball”. I try to sell the whole package, the whole experience. Having done it myself then served my five years before being presented with this amazing opportunity I try to inform them not only what the school has to offer but what it means later, no matter what you go on to do. You have a guaranteed career, salary, a wide network of people you’ve met along the way, you are in top shape. It sets you up for a good life no matter where you go. I’ve seen others get out because they were given great opportunities and personally I enjoyed my time in and would not have left if I wasn’t offered this amazing opportunity. One major problem is getting people to come to the school for a visit to defeat the preconceived notions what a military school is like. People see the propaganda in movies and yelling all the time then see RMC and after that they usually apply.
COACH: As mentioned previously I don’t just look for talent at basketball. I need to look at academic standing, and whether I feel they will fit into the environment. While this is subjective I mainly look for drive and determination. That is one thing our team has and needs. Since we are growing and working to be competitive I need someone willing to put in the work to be better. This also ties into the life at RMC. To succeed you need drive and determination and to find a balance between things. This is what makes a top player successful both in basketball and the four pillars. This is also what makes them successful as an officer afterwards.
COACH: Two. Both are exceptional circumstances. There is the asst coach as I mentioned previously. While she is not an RMC cadet she is married to one, has been part of the program for four years, is a serving logistics officer, and is currently doing post grad. The second is an interest only student who applied to RMC, was accepted but tore her ACL and was nor recovered enough to make the deadline for this year. She will play this year and do some courses then enter ROTP next year. It has happened before.
COACH: Any of my interest only players are circumstances like this. Injuries. Late enrollment. All are committed to coming as either ROTP or RETP for the following year. I believe it to be a positive tool for the right person. I view post grad students as the equivalent of and RMC undergrad student. I have considered using this tool as an equivalent to prep year where if a potential recruit has a weak subject they pay for their first year, play basketball and focus on school then enroll into ROTP/RETP for the following year. This hasn’t occurred yet. As far as reservists I’m not opposed but it hasn’t occurred for our team yet. It is more of a paperwork/commitment nightmare because there are reserve training that prevents them being here for some practices and games. It hasn’t become a necessity as of yet. There are guidelines for the department in using these players.
COACH: The teams captain, 24414 Anna Dupuis (RMC ’09) as a fourth year will be most important in terms of leadership. Losing 23803 Jen Donofrio (RMC ’07), we will be losing our offensive edge so I will need her ability both for offense and defense but her greatest asset to the team will be in terms of her leadership. Also the asst coach will bring a different type of leadership as a player having been a serving officer and mother. I have to say I am also relying on our new recruits. They have been coming down on weekends from
COACH: A lot more! We’ve lost Jen but as soon as the season ended everyone has kept working hard, training hard and I believe collectively everyone is getting better. The team has strengthened incredibly over the last season and were competitive towards the end. We also have a team rule that after first year you must get over 400 on the RMC PPT or you don’t play. I’ve had other coaches ask about out fitness training as the drive, strength, etc amazes them. Ability has improved and we have a great bunch for this year. I expect good results and to be competitive.
COACH: I don’t see any reason we can’t be successful, win tournaments, and championships. We are still growing on what we’ve accomplished so far. There will be years of struggle for any team but we have developed a culture and now just need to wait for a certain special group and you can never tell when that will be.
COACH: I think we have a legitimate shot. It would be a huge jump but I don’t think its out of reach.
COACH: I try to make them focus on the big picture of things; that they are the foundation of the program and that what they are doing is for the program and the school.
COACH: I just think no matter what you are doing you have to stay positive. I’m not of the opinion we can’t win the league or championship. We are numerically at a disadvantage and the rigors of RMC life detract focus from basketball but we are still getting more and more competitive.
COACH: We have a great exhibition schedule lined up. We are going to
COACH: I believe I have a huge impact on the players away from the court. Quite possibly the greatest impact they experience while at the college. While they are exposed to other mentors such as profs, squad coms, div coms, they spend more time with me then any of them. I am quite sure I know them better as well. Also having gone to this school, served in the CF I am conscious of the impact I have and do my best to be the best possible mentor I can be. I believe there is a direct relationship between the court and career. I try to develop their leadership on the court to benefit them with their career. Going back to drive, determination and balance. If they have this on the court they can apply it to everything in life, especially their careers. I’m not the only one on the team who has this kind of impact. I see this relationship between the first years and the team captain as well.
COACH: On the day-to-day basis I would have to say team but there are always cases of personal tragedy or requirement. I’ve had players miss very important games for very important reasons. It depends on the situation and ultimately comes down to a discussion with the individual or the team. This is all part of being a team. With the college coming first it is a team on a larger scale. Sometimes people have special circumstances but overall the team comes first. I think this understanding of personal sacrifice for the team is important and is yet another thing the players can take off the court and into their career. As a leader in the CF there will be times you need to put your section or platoon first and your interests on the back burner. The varsity sport experience at RMC aids in teaching this.