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From three-point master to master coach

After almost three decades of coaching, John Desormeaux is sharing his knowledge of basketball much closer to home.
Veteran coach, and former gym rat, John Desormeaux has nearly 30 years under his belt, helping Sudbury basketball players develop the skills to better their games. Photo by Randy Pascal

After almost three decades of coaching, John Desormeaux is sharing his knowledge of basketball much closer to home.

While it’s no exaggeration to suggest that the 47-year-old native Sudburian has impacted several hundred apiring hardcourt-talented youngsters, Desormeaux has enjoyed the opportunity, in recent years, to work closely with his daughter, Megan.

Not that this is likely to stop the energetic, self-acknowledged gym rat from assisting other teams as well. Rarely a season goes by when Desormeaux’s feedback is not welcomed by multiple teams.

Initially a hockey player in his youth, Desormeaux was first introduced to basketball in Grade 8 at École St-Pierre.

By the time his high school career ended, after short stops at Sacre Coeur and Elliot Lake Secondary, and three highly impactful seasons at College Notre-Dame, Desormeaux was completely smitten by the sport.

The move to the coaching ranks came quickly, at the age of just 19, as his playing days were capped by a record-setting campaign with the Canadore Panthers.

“As a point guard, it was a no-brainer that I was going to become a coach, because I was the coach on the floor,” Desormeaux said recently. “It was an easy transition for me from player to coach.”

The introduction of the three-point line allowed this youngest of seven children to garner considerable success during his collegiate playing days.

Luckily, his good fortune followed him behind the bench. Desormeaux guided the junior girls team at CND, a squad without much of a winning tradition back in the day, to a city and NOSSA championship in his very first year.

“I was fortunate to have success right away in coaching – it really motivated me,” Desormeaux said. “And I was fortunate to have a pretty talented collection of young players.”

Looking back, the 5’-6”, three-point specialist cannot help but smile as he contemplates the initial attraction that drew him, in large part, to the coaching ranks.

“When I first started coaching, my whole objective was to become ‘Mr. Basketball’,” he said. “I wanted people to know who I was. I wanted to establish a reputation.”

Safe to say that item has come off the “to-do” list some time ago. Between school teams, club teams, summer programs and the like, Desormeaux has become synonymous with the sport of basketball in the Sudbury basin.

Coached briefly by the likes of Mike Mulvihill and Kerry Vincent at the OCAA level, he noted that the biggest impact, for him, came via his secondary school mentor at Notre-Dame.

“The person who inspired me in his own way was Ron Dubuc,” Desormeaux said. “As a young player, he definitely influenced my love of the game.”

From playing and coaching at CND, he moved on to École Felix-Ricard, building a program that would become the envy of many within the elementary school ranks.

Over a five-year stretch, Desormeaux’s team did not lose a single game, cycling a variety of young female basketball talent through the crew that would lay claim to four Ontario French provincial titles.

Such was the level of success that Desormeaux simply took the next logical step, carrying his core of talent at Felix on to the Basketball Ontario club scene, capping that run with a Division II crown at provincials.

With the foundation for so many players set in motion at this time, Desormeaux understands the critical role that he might play in helping to promote female basketball.

“My objective now through the Sudbury Jam (club basketball) program is to help all the high schools, preparing as many kids as we can develop going on to whatever high school they may go to,” he said.

“Our job as coaches at the grass roots level is to inspire and motivate and obviously teach the fundamental skills. Skill builds confidence – once the kids do something that works, it makes them feel good and they keep doing it,” Desormeaux added.

He has currently teamed with well-respected basketball man Jeff McKibbon, coaching his daughter Megan on a major bantam club team.

Not that he expects his approach to vary a whole lot from the hundreds of other young players who have benefitted from the teachings of a gentleman who was clearly born to coach.

“Everybody that knows me would say, hopefully, that John is enthusiastic and passionate,” Desormeaux said. “And when you think you know it all, you get left behind. As a coach, I grow with the times, with the kids – it’s not the same as it was 20 years ago. The kids are different, the basketball is different.”

Yet the continuous involvement of John Desormeaux remains unchanged.


Posted by Laurel Myers