Long before the Toronto Raptors captured the attention of Canadians on the way to a 2019 NBA championship, Perth and District Collegiate Institute teacher-coach Kevin Bellamy was already focused on the sport of basketball. He was coaching and working at camps by the age of 15, and knew by then he wanted to teach Physical Education and coach sports.
Bellamy was mentored for a time by legendary Carleton University Ravens coach Dave Smart, winner of 14 national titles since 1999-2000, including the 2018-2019 crown. “I played for Dave on the very first Ottawa Carleton Guardsmen,” said Bellamy. “The Guardsmen came into being in 1985, and making the team is to be involved with the pre-eminent boys’ basketball program in Ontario. I then played on the provincial team in the summer of 1990 and was a teammate of Rowan Barrett, Director of Canada Basketball and father of R. J. Barrett, who was recently drafted by the New York Knicks.” That provincial team won gold at the U19 boys National Basketball Championships in Cape Breton the same year.
Also in 1990, Bellamy helped coach at the first annual Blue Devil Basketball Camp, started by PDCI coach and Athletic Director Joe Marriner. “Joe started the camp because of the rise in popularity of the game in general and the rise in popularity of the sport in our school and was the grassroots for our High School basketball program. At the time I began Tigers Basketball. I went on to work with Joe and shared an office with him for twelve years.
“When I finished university I took over all aspects of the camp. The development camp is for all skill levels, and has always been inclusive. Tigers Basketball is named after Dalhousie University Tigers, one of the two schools I played university basketball for. The other team was the Queen’s University Golden Gaels.”
Bellamy attributes the longevity of the camp in part to a three hour session in the morning. “Kids find it easy to work hard for three hours, as do the coaches. A full day sports camp can be exhausting,” He went on to explain that it also prevents the camp from becoming a day care, and the campers are the ones who want to learn the game. Typically campers are age seven to fourteen for Blue Devil camp, and six to thirteen for Perth Tigers’ spring and fall camp.
Sean Christy and Jackson Bannon are the adult coaches, and the student coaches are all very good players who are a product of the system. Two of those assistant coaches are sons Ben and Will, ages 19 and 17 respectively. Bellamy says that “Having them beside me at camp after three decades of teaching basketball is very special to me. They have enjoyed the benefits of sport in basketball, and Ben has been a successful runner, with Will excelling in golf.”
Coach Bannon is the manager for junior and senior boys’ basketball at PDCI, and he is also an assistant coach for our senior boys’ team. Bellamy describes Bannon as “a very important person in our basketball program. Although he came from a hockey background, playing goalie in college at Potsdam, and had little basketball experience, his perspective is seen as original and helpful.”
As the other adult assistant, Christy is in his fourth year in the PDCI grade seven and eight school, and is considered an elite level coach. “He brings an elementary background to our high school program and also an original angle on things. He has won OFSAA championships at Rideau High School as a player and as a coach, and he now coaches track and field and x-country.”
Several players who went through the Blue Devil program, and played for the high school team, have gone on to play at university. “But more importantly we have had all kinds of kids use basketball to help them stay on a really good ‘life path’ through the challenge of adolescence. This is what I am most proud of. My love for basketball and competition got me through university.”
Bellamy has big plans for PDCI basketball over the next five years, “but most of the plans and training will take place through our school system. My community basketball program is nearing the end. It’s time that we grow and take things to the next level with more community teams and programs with a larger organization.”
“Providing a positive experience at summer camp and in our winter community program made my day job (at PDCI) even more enjoyable. Having built a previous relationship with the kids, and providing a fun, positive experience made my day job easy. I absolutely love my job. The kids at PDCI are awesome,”
Having watched the Perth Tigers and Blue Devil camps myself for more than a decade, it never ceases to amaze how the power of sports can help boys and girls find their way in life. They most certainly come out the other side of those camps with a new sense of confidence and self-esteem, ready to take on the world.
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