U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”
- Name: Bobby Mitchell
- School: UBC Okanagan Heat
- Sport: Women’s basketball
- Position: Head coach
- Seniority: 1st Year
- Previous school/position: Lead assistant coach, UBC Okanagan women’s basketball
- Hometown: Saint John, N.B.
1. How did you first get involved in coaching? What was your path to your position as head coach of UBC Okanagan?
I first got involved with senior boys at Fraser Heights 2001 but the season was cut short due to a strike. In 2003, I moved to Vernon and a co-worker asked if I would help out at Vernon Secondary with the senior girls’ team. I said no for about two months but he was relentless and eventually I said yes.
I spent the next nine seasons at VSS and during that time I started coaching club basketball out of Vernon which after five years of running a club program, I joined forces with Jr. Heat and began to run the U17 program. In 2013, Heather Semeniuk asked me to join her and the coaching staff with the women’s program as an assistant. I wouldn’t be here without the opportunity she gave me 6 years ago.
2. Who are the people that have influenced you most as a coach?
Bill Conway, my teacher and first Basketball coach; my three high school coaches Glen Spurrell, Fran McHugh, and Tom King. One of the biggest influences was David Munro who really talked to me about what it met to be a professional at this level.
3. How would you describe your coaching style?
Passionate, intense, and a bit of a players’ coach.
4. Which coach do you admire the most, and why?
Vince Lombardi, because of his hard work and he always knew how to get the most out of his players.
Also, he coached a senior boys’ basketball team (knowing nothing about basketball) for eight seasons going 105-57 - he just knew how to coach.
5. What is the most “out-of-the-box” thing you’ve done as a coach?
I would have to say running the “barking dog endline play” in a high school game.
6. What is your greatest coaching moment or achievement?
Becoming a head coach at this level.
7. What’s the best advice you can give to an athlete and/or athlete’s parents
Hard work will pay off, focus on the things you can control, and never stop having fun.
8. How have you changed as a coach over time? What principles/values, etc. have remained the same?
I think the biggest thing that has changed is my understanding of the importance of building relationships with each player.
I didn’t fully understand that 10 years ago. Hard work and accountability has remained, and will be there for the rest of my coaching years.
9. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in coaching mode?
Family time, watching a show/football, and listening to music.
10. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a coach?
One that stands out is taking a timeout at the end of the third quarter preparing my team for the last shot of the game. I go through the whole timeout thinking it’s the fourth quarter and finally at the end, the team mom/manger informed me it’s only the end of the third.