Sports

Benoit coaching in 2017 Indigenous Games.

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Gerry Benoit, recognized as one of the top coaches in Ontario after being one of nine coaches from across the province to receive one of the 2015 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards, will be coaching the Ontario U-14 basketball team in the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, being held in Toronto next summer.

Gerry Benoit, recognized as one of the top coaches in Ontario after being one of nine coaches from across the province to receive one of the 2015 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards, will be coaching the Ontario U-14 basketball team in the 2017 North American Indigenous Games, being held in Toronto next summer.

Gerry Benoit will again be coaching the Ontario U-14 boys basketball team at the 2017 North American Indigenous Games.

The games, held once every three years, are being hosted in Toronto July 16 to July 23, 2017, and will bring together 5,000 aboriginal youth from across North America to celebrate indigenous culture and compete in a variety of traditional and non-traditional sports.

The Laurentian Valley resident, whose ongoing basketball program has been bringing pride to aboriginal youth across the province and beyond, led the U-14s to a silver medal at the 2014 games in Regina.

“We’re the home team, and we have the home court advantage,” Benoit said. He is really excited to have landed an assistant coach – Titus Tanner, a formal national player who represented Canada in the in the 2002 World Basketball Championships, backing up basketball star Steve Nash.

“How cool is that?” Benoit said. ‘I wish I was 13 again so i could play on this team.”

This will be the third time Benoit has taken part in the NAIG; twice as coach, and once as a player competing in the 2002 NAIG in Winnipeg. He also won a silver medal at the 2005 Ontario Aboriginal Summer Games in Sudbury.

Benoit said he has partnered with the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council for Ontario, which is the governing body of aboriginal sporting events, and helps out by running the basketball programs within the aboriginal multi-sport camps held throughout the province. This summer, he has been to places like Moose Factory, Kapuskasing and others.

It has been a busy few years for Benoit, besides helping to run basketball programs and travelling the province and beyond.

In 2015, Benoit was honoured by being one of nine coaches from across Ontario to receive one of the 2015 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Coaches Association of Ontario.

He was presented the "Everyone Matters" Coach Award, whose recipient has influenced the culture of their team, their organization or community by embracing diversity and differences. Over a sustained period of time they have demonstrated the value of an inclusive approach through acceptance and accessibility. Examples in this category include success in reaching out to and actively welcoming different genders, different age groups, newcomers to a sport program or a coach who successfully integrates athletes with a disability into the program.

Benoit was the first aboriginal coach to receive this award, and the first one from Renfrew County as well.

This year, he took part in the NBA festivities in Toronto, held in conjunction with the NBA all star game, where he was invited to hold a coaches clinic for aboriginal youth. Benoit was also invited by Canada Basketball to serve as an ambassador for the Steve Nash Basketball Program for the Ottawa Valley. He has also been training volunteers to coach in the program.

“It’s been crazy, man,” Benoit said.

Tryouts of the Ontario team are already getting underway at locations across the province. Serpent River will host a camp on Dec. 10-11 for boys and girls U19, U16, and U14; in January, tryouts will be happening in Rama, and in February in Timmins. Benoit said he is hoping to get a basketball camp going in Belleville around the same time.

He said he’d like there to be six camps on total, and intends on attending five of them, so he can keep a sharp eye out for players for his U14 team. He said he expects it will be a better team than the one he brought to Regina.

For further information on the aboriginal basketball program or the tryouts for the Ontario team for the North American Indigenous Games, check out the website at www.aswco.ca.

SUhler@postmedia.com



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