Christian Carrière: the art of growing the basketball community
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR. Passion combined with voluntary commitment can often lead to great things.
These two materials, Christian Carrière has used for nearly a decade to cultivate a taste for basketball among dozens of elementary and high school students. And it works!
What is most surprising at first glance is that the Omerville native is far from the traditional profile of a basketball player or coach. Or physical work.
He never even played a sport competitively. “When I was younger, I just played hockey and baseball, because that was all there was at the time,” the 56-year-old recalls.
This love for basketball only blossomed when his son Frédéric began appearing in the sport, first at La Ruche, and then at the collegiate level with the Cougars de Champlain.
“When Fred stopped playing, I got tired of basketball. It was then that I decided to get involved in the mini-basketball program at the École Deux-Soleils. It’s also a way to give back to the sport after everything my son has taken for himself.”
“But because my knowledge is limited, I had to ask Charles-Antoine Rondeau (a former top player) as an assistant. And in exchange, I agreed to help him with the team he led at La Ruche high school,” he continued.
From the beginning as a coach, Christian Carrière has always played a dual role in primary (mini basketball) and secondary (regular basketball).
He even had a unique experience, last April, when his La Ruche team faced his son Frédéric’s Sherbrooke’s team, in the playoff final. “There’s great competition between us, but it’s a fair game. In our case, I am the student and he is the master,” compare him then.
After working for a long time in difficult conditions and in very tight terrain, Christian Carrière was offered a real prize by the Government of Quebec and the Center de services scolaire des Sommets when the Deux-Soleils expansion project was completed almost a year ago. .
As well as providing more spacious and modern facilities for youth and teaching staff, the work resulted in the construction of a dual gymnasium that other schools would no doubt envy. “This is absolutely the most beautiful basketball gym in the region,” says Christian Carrière.
“I always said that if I became a millionaire, I would build a new gymnasium. But thanks to this project, I don’t even have to spend millions,” he laughs.
“We have the perfect place to hold matches and tournaments. I think we could even put benches up,” he said jokingly.
Victim of his own success
We don’t really know if it’s the appeal of the new gymnasium or the charisma of the coach, but the fact is that the mini-basketball program at Deux-Soleils works very well. Maybe even too much.
“Tuesday’s practice is for grades 3 and 4 and there are 16 kids. But on Thursday, we numbered 30 participants for the 5th and 6th year practice. We had enough space, but a bit too crowded for one coach. So I decided to get help from a student from La Ruche,” said Christian Carrière.
“And with my La Ruche team, I am also in the habit of selecting former program graduates to help me as assistants. It is good that older students are introduced to the role of coach. Basketball was immensely popular, but a victim of its own success; we lack coaches because there are too many teams,” he noted.
“And another advantage is that former players are more qualified than me to teach various technical aspects such as ‘dunk’, ‘lay up’ and dribbling. Trust me, I’m not the one who’s going to show them how to pass the ball between their legs,” he argued humorously.
“My role is more to teach the collective game, but I also focus a lot on the social side. Young people must learn to interact with each other, develop the concept of a team. And I can also support parents if their child is going through a hard time. Sometimes it’s easier for a teenager to confide in his coach,” he explained.
One thing is certain, with the popularity of his program and the new gymnasium – which has become his second home – Christian Carrière will not be stopping his involvement as a volunteer. And he hopes, most humbly, to set an example.
“By continuing to be involved, I hope to encourage others to follow suit,” he concluded.