AAU

Ottawa Phoenix: Rising from the ashes

In seven years, the Ottawa Phoenix basketball program has come a long way. They have truly lived by their name and risen from the ashes. In order to understand how this bird took flight, you have to imagine some of the best athletes on the Ottawa basketball scene being made stronger, faster, and more knowledgeable about the game. Add to that accountability and responsibility to themselves, the program and the community. With this recipe you get the prototype Phoenix player.

Some of their original athletes were unknown and unwanted by other club team programs, but Coaches Adrienne Coddett and Andy Waterman had a vision that included just such a player.

Building on their success with the St. Patrick’s basketball program, Ottawa Phoenix Basketball sought to live by a simple motto that has continued to be the mantra of the program to this day – “Use basketball. Don’t let basketball use you!”

You hear this sentiment echoed in the words and actions of past and present Phoenix players. Basketball is a tool that can open up many opportunities and the Phoenix Basketball program has prepared their players to meet life’s challenges head on. Playing for Phoenix means that players are chal-lenged to do well not only on the court, but off it. Practices are rigorous. Games schedules are competitive.

It doesn’t end with that. There are long conversations on a variety of subject matters including community responsibility, academic preparation and planning, family involvement and support, manhood, history, career goals and personal aspirations to name a few. It’s all about breaking down bad habits to build up a new, stronger and more confident individual. “We coach up in order to prepare our players to play at the next level. Because of the training they have received at this level, I am confident that they can step into any college or university program and make immediate contributions,” says Andy Waterman.

The formula has worked well. There is plenty of evidence in the form of former Ottawa Phoenix players. Patrick and Michael Kearns are respective graduates from McGill and Concordia University. Rupert Nyaamine won a National College Championship while attending Humber College. Dion Williams graduated from St. Francis Xavier University and achieved a National Championship during his rookie season. Garry Gallimore is a three time member of the under 21 Canadian National basketball team. Edilson Silva graduated from Durham College and is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Ballerz Basketball Magazine. Jonathan Bell is a current member of the nationally ranked St. Francis Xavier University and former CCAA all-Canadian at Algonquin College. Ryan Bell and Jean Emmanuel Jean Marie were both CIS National Champions in 2004 while attending Carleton University.

The program’s crowning glory came last year at the CIS National Basketball Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the Championship game, five former Phoenix players, who have now moved on to the University level, were pitted against each other in a live, prime time, nationally televised, battle. The championship winning team, the Carleton Ravens had two of the more recent graduates of the program, Ryan Bell and Jean Emmanuel Jean Marie. The runner-up, St. Francis Xavier X–men had three of the early foundation players, Dion Williams, Jonathan Bell, and Garry Gallimore.

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