OCdts. On Parade

Basketball aficionado returns to Kingston

A/SLt 24498 Noelani Shore (RMC 2009)

After spending three years in England, James Bambury has returned to Kingston as the Head Coach of the Women’s Varsity Basketball team at RMC.

As a basketball enthusiast since the age of three, Bambury is elated at the prospect of coaching basketball full time.

“My first present when I was three years old was a hoop. I don’t know why, but I asked for it, and my parents said I was always into tall things,” he joked. “To be able to be a full-time coach and support my wife, anyone who knows me couldn’t be happier for me because they know how much this means to me. I’m so proud of the opportunity to work with such great people here, and to coach basketball full time. How can I not love getting up in the morning, when I have a chance to coach basketball everyday?”

Bambury has always been able to rely on sports and basketball, in particular, when moving around. His father, Lieutenant Commander Vincent Bambury, is current working at CFB Kingston as a training validation officer for the Army, so Bambury and his family moved around many times in his career.

“We’d bounce around pretty much every two years. Sports were a constant for me, so that no matter what was going on, I always had basketball. There is a great support system in the military, and we always had great facilities and gyms, so I knew that if I went down to the gym, I’d be able to meet people with similar interests,” he said.

Even though his father was in the military, Bambury never thought of RMC as a school where he could come and play sports. It was a primarily military institution, and that’s an outlook that he would like to change as the new coach.

“I think one of the biggest challenges I’m going to face will be educating people on the great opportunity that you have when you come to RMC. People have to understand what is provided for them when they come here, in terms of physical activity,” Bambury explained. “It’s not just the varsity sports, but the intramurals and other activities are great too. I’m going to do my best to get the word out so all potential students are aware of the benefits of attending RMC.”

Bambury recognizes the challenges in recruiting as well, because RMC is such a specialized school. When there are a lot of generic programs, it’s easier to convince students who want to play basketball to attend one university over another.

“When you look at other schools, the limit of first years might be 1-2,000, as opposed to the roughly 200 here at RMC, so that poses a challenge as well,” he said. “But there are great things about this university that act as benefits to the sports programs. The cadets learn real life skills, and they are coming here focused on what they want to do, and they already have leadership qualities. They already want to be disciplined individuals, and want to be leaders. I think that will help.”

While all of the cadets are away on various courses, Bambury has been able to get in touch with most of the players.

“I’ve got a player who’s off the coast of Hawaii on a ship who’s gotten a hold of me, so I’m really impressed with the dedication of the players already. As long as they do a good job managing their busy schedules at RMC, I think we’ll be fine.”

The first game of the season is on Nov 5, so there is time for Bambury and his players to get their heads in the game.

“I’m looking to sit down and periodize the year, and see what we need to know by Nov 5. Because I’m coming in to a fairly new situation, it’s not a bad thing that we won’t have games right away,” he said. “We’ll get a chance to get into the gym and get to know each other, not only as people, but as a basketball team, and what we want to be able to accomplish as a group.”

Bambury has an undergraduate degree from Queen’s University and a Masters’ degree from Carlow University in Pittsburgh. He played basketball for three years at Queen’s.

“It was great. You learn an awful lot sitting on the bench. It gave me perspective, I think, when it comes to being a coach, because by no means was I a superstar, but I got the chance to see how the coaches interact, how the players interact, and how things work on and off the floor,” he said. “I wasn’t always in the middle of it, and it was almost like I was a fly on the wall more than anything else, and it was a great experience.”

While in England, Bambury had a lot of experience coaching teams at various levels. He moved to Leeds two days after getting married, because his wife, Katherine wanted to do her Masters’ degree in a foreign location. She was accepted to Leeds Metropolitan University to do a program in Public Health Promotion, and that’s where Bambury began to coach men’s and women’s basketball.

“I worked with Leeds Carnegie Basketball, and they were all incredibly supportive in my development, as well as my decision to leave,” he said.

Bambury worked with the University’s club team when it was still in its infancy, and he was the assistant for the women’s first team when it began. At the end of that year, the women’s team got promoted to Division 1, the semi-professional/professional league.

“Not everyone is paid to play in that Division, but probably four or five players per team were paid to play. So I took over the men’s development team, and left the women’s team at that point. And then two months into our season, the women played their first league game and it was obvious there were some issues, so the director asked me to come and take over the women’s program. It wasn’t the easiest start, but you learn an awful lot from a season like that. In the end, though, one girl was selected to play for the Great Britain’s women’s team, and another girl ended up being an under 20 for Hungary.”

Bambury learned a lot during his time in England, and had the opportunity to coach in the national championship in the British University Championships, as well as being the assistant coach on the gold-medal-winning British representative side during the Home Nations tournament.

He will take that experience and work hard with the RMC women’s team. One of Bambury’s goals is to get as many people out to the games as possible.

“I constantly talk about the military community being such a great influence on people’s lives, and we want varsity sports to be part of that. I had the great opportunity to sit in Colorado at the Air Force Academy, and sat in the row with all the Navy guys when Navy played Air Force, and I saw the cadets going insane,” he said. “There is that pride that you can get from varsity sports; you don’t have to be the one doing it, you can be the one supporting it. And I genuinely would love to see enthusiasm put toward varsity sports here. I really hope to see as many people out as possible, to not only women’s basketball, but men’s and women’s volleyball, soccer, fencing, whatever it is that peaks your interest. Even if it doesn’t, just come check it out, because you never know. I want to encourage people to participate, not only during intramurals, but to be a fan, to come and be a part of it.”


World University Championships – TKD

By: IV Felix KesserWan – Cadet Wing Training Officer

On 25 June I left Kingston for the beautifull city of Vigo, in northern Spain. The 11th world Taekwondo championships that were held there would be my first internationnal Taekwondo experience. I was representing Canada at a world event for the first time. The world university Taekwondo championship is a high calibre tournament open exclusively to university student athletes.

Five people were selected to represent Canada at this event; Kevin Hatt, a heavyweight from New Brunswick, Bradley Waterman a Welterweight from Queen’s university, Stephanie Gauthier from Winnepeg, Vanessa Larochelle-Meilleur who just graduated from RMC, and myself. Even though the team had never competed together before, we quickly developed a sense of camaraderie by training together and pushing each other to perform at a high level.

The competition stretched out over 8 days, having different weight classes compete on different days. To ensure we were prepared physically and mentally for our matches we trained twice per day. We knew that we had to be prepared because amongst the members of the other teams where a few world medalists and Olympians.

I was competing on the last day of the event which gave me time to fine tune some details and develop a good game plan. I was obviously anxious to compete but at the same time I was confident in my abilities. I faced Spain which was the home crowd favourite supported by many cheers and national chants. I didn’t deviate from my game plan keeping focused during the whole match. Unfortunately, I did not capitalise on my opportunities and made two distinct mistakes that gave my opponent his winning points. Although the match remained close through each round, I lost by the score of 5-0..

I was extremely disappointed to lose but I believe that I gained valuable experience in Spain. What I have come to realize is that there isn’t much of a gap between my level that of those at the top of the world. At this high level of competition it’s not about speed, power or technique but almost exclusively about strategy, execution and mental toughness. I’m looking forward to next year’s season, annual West Point exchange and Canadian nationals as I believe that with the experience I gained this summer and the continuous training during the year I should be able to reach the podium.

Ed Note: We received word that Vanessa Larochelle-Meilleur lost a tough 3-2 decision in her bout.

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