Heritage Hurricanes coach Linton Garner wins 2022-2023 coach of the year
Heritage Hurricanes men’s basketball coach Linton Garner received the Heritage College Coach of the Year Award on April 27. The award recognizes coaches who have made a strong contribution to students’ lives and promoted both athletic and academic achievement.
Garner brings over 40 years of coaching experience to Heritage College. He began coaching in Montreal at YMCAs in Notre Dame de Grace and the West Island as well as the YM-YWHA in Cote des Neiges. He also helped found the West Island Black Community Association (WIBCA) Wildcats and worked as a coach for the Lachine Raptors. “From the time I left university and started working in the community field, I started coaching. Having been a youth worker for a number of years, coaching just seemed a natural fit,” said Garner.
In 2017, Garner moved to Gatineau after coaching for some years at John Abbott College in Montreal. He began as an assistant coach at Heritage College and was then promoted to head coach in September 2022.
For Garner, coaching is not only about helping players do well athletically, but about building attitudes that support studies and other areas of life. “You learn a lot about life being a part of a team,” he said. “You learn to depend on each other; you learn to collaborate; and you’re pushing toward a common goal…. I often teach kids that what we learn on the court will equally apply off the court. There are rules and regulations; we have diverse skills; and we have to learn how to contribute.”
He added that an essential part of helping players excel in all areas of life is to help them see themselves as part of a supportive community, “We really like to emphasize the fact that you are not just an individual basketball player, you are part of a community, a family, a team. You’re surrounded by people who want to help you succeed. When you can create that kind of atmosphere, players will succeed because it buoys them and gives them a firm foundation.”
The Heritage Hurricanes had a strong season this year, coming 3rd overall in the men’s Division 2 Provincial Championships, with a record of 11 to 5. Even more important for Garner, however, is the fact that no players dropped out of the team during the season, and five players made the college honour roll – a statistic which Garner said is unprecedented.
Hurricane players Armel Japhet Yameogo and Zion Lim were both recognized as RESQ Division 2 all-stars this season with 17.1 and 16.4 points per game respectively. Other leading scorers were Joyce Mukunayi Dumbu at 13.3 points and Renaldy Demosthenes at 11.1 points. Kaylan Francis won the Coach’s Award and Willsan Abdulkhadir won most improved player after having a major operation at the start of the season. The Hurricanes are also saying goodbye to their captain and most valuable player of two years, Valdi Alarie-Hill, after he graduated from Heritage this spring. “He was our leader. He really centred the team together and it’s sad to see him go, but this is what we want players to do – to go into the world and play their role. That’s just great,” said Garner.
Heritage Hurricanes Basketball team with 2022-2023 coach of the year Linton Garner (left) and assistant coach Justin Edwards (right).
Photo credit: Marc Desjardins