Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano is the first Canadian-born NBA coach, and it seems as though he doesn’t want to be the last.
The 50 year-old native of Tilsonburg, Ontario is working with Campbell’s Soup, the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC), and TSN, to promote the growth and recognition of homegrown coaches.
Individuals can visit www.chunkymvc.ca and nominate a coach that has made a difference in their lives.
Six finalists will be chosen in January and the winner of a public vote will receive $25,000 to go towards his or her athletes and community.
“[Canadian] coaches don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Triano told the Canadian Press
“We don’t get paid to coach in this country, they do it for the love of the sport and for the development of the children. That’s why I got involved in this, it’s a no-brainer.”
Triano got his first taste of coaching as an assistant at Simon Fraser University in 1985 and then served for seven years as their head coach.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he led the Canadian men’s basketball team to a 5-2 record — second-best to the superpower U.S. team.
This exposure is what led him to being given a chance with the Raptor’s organization, Triano says.
“Let’s face it, that was the springboard for me to have this opportunity. Had that not happened? Who knows?,” he says.
He believes a Canadian coach in a lower rank has just as much know-how as a hall-of-famer in a professional league.
“The perception is, because he does it with better athletes and under a bigger spotlight, that he is a better coach and I don’t think that’s the case,” Triano says.
What they lack is just the basic support.
“We have great coaches in this country. I [just] don’t think we have the resources for them or the athletes to compete at the same level,” he says.
In a survey conducted last month by Campbell’s and the CAC, 92 per cent of respondents agreed that coaches play an integral role in their communities, while nearly 70 per cent felt that coaches in Canada do not receive enough recognition for their work.