Delaney on teaching and life
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Delaney on teaching and life
By Mike Murphy
Born in Kirkland Lake, a town where hockey was ubiquitous, Bob Delaney started life like many Canadian kids with a stick in his hands and blades on his feet.
Now in his 10th year as Western's women's basketball coach, the 52 year-old high school teacher looks just as comfortable on a hardwood floor as he would a sheet of ice.
Watching his players in practice before a game against Wilfrid Laurier University, Delaney took time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on basketball, coaching and being a teacher.
"As an educator, I've always been very demanding," he said, referring to his pedagogical position as teacher of Grade 11 and 12 business math at John Paul II High School. "That's carried over into basketball. Sometimes people find me too demanding, but if you're not demanding, people will do what they think they're comfortable with. I can only wish that my players and my students have demanding parents, demanding coaches, demanding people in their lives that will push them to a higher level."
After completing a degree at the University of Windsor, Delaney chose to enter the teaching profession - a career path which brought him into contact with other basketball coaches, whom he said he learned a great deal from.
When asked about coaching mentors, Delaney responded, "In my early career, it was basically colleagues that I taught with in the Sarnia area. I have to give credit to John Thrasher who's at Sarnia Northern [High School]. We played hockey together and after hockey we'd move beer caps around. He showed me zones and presses and it evolved from there."
Apparently inspired by his colleague's unconventional method of diagramming plays, Delaney explained he then became interested in attending basketball clinics conducted by professionals. "At that level, I'd have to say [former National Basketball Association coach] Hubie Brown has been probably the most influential person in my career."
In addition to setting high standards, he added, a good coach must be ready to tell others the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. "You have to be able to tell people exactly how it is, whether they like it or they don't like it," he stated. "It's the only way people are going to become better players and better people. Communication is the most important thing."
Indeed, according to Delaney, communicating and interacting daily with his players is probably his favourite part of the job. Questioned as to what he finds most satisfying about coaching, he replied, "Dealing with the players on a day-to-day basis. These are highly motivated people they're highly skilled. Having them here and knowing they want to excel everyday in practice at every aspect of the game makes it very rewarding.
"The most important thing for me is the chemistry a team can generate once it's been together for a number of weeks," he continued. "When you get a bunch of athletes and all of a sudden they develop a camaraderie and a respect for one another and for the coaches and they all buy into the common goals that gives me the most satisfaction."
A family man with four children, Delaney said he enjoys golfing and woodworking in his spare time. As an experienced coach, Delaney seems to have a strong sense of where success lies and an insatiable desire to drive towards it.