RNS b-ball players are 'tough as nails'

Sean Mott | Telegraph-Journal
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The coach of a preparatory school in Rothesay says plans are underway to expand into international basketball competition, building on years of success.

Damian Gay, the coach for the Rothesay Netherwood School's boys' basketball team, said the team began five years ago with the idea of exposing players to the widest array of competition in North America.

"We're always looking for a team to beat us," he said. "We want to get beat because we want to get better. For me, it's a waste of time to beat the same teams by a lot of points."

Gay said the team is constantly looking for tough opponents to build up their players' skills and abilities. The team recently stopped going to local tournaments to focus on competing with teams from the United States and elsewhere.

Three years ago, they ended their regular season in the National Preparatory Association with a record of 0-12; this season, they're currently undefeated with a record of 4-0.

"We're tough as nails," Gay said. "The general theme is there are no ceilings."

Gay said their improved reputation has helped them attract players from across Canada and around the world. Their current roster has players from Fredericton, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Barcelona, Spain.

Grade 12 student Caleb Sooley is one of the earlier members of the team. Originally from St. John's, N.L., he's been part of RNS for four years.
"We had a really small basketball community at the time," he said, referring to his hometown. "Coach Gay approached me and told me about the academics at the school and also what they're doing by building a basketball program. That interested me, so I decided to come over."

Kellen Tynes, from Halifax, has been with Rothesay Netherwood for three years. He's looking to play at the college level and he thinks the prep team is a solid launch pad for that goal.

"My goal is to play (Division 1) basketball," he said. "I don't think that would have been possible if I didn't come here and get the training from coach Gay and the support from the community."

Gay said several players have gone on to university-level basketball in the program's short history.

One of their biggest players was Andrew Milner from Antigonish, N.S., who played with the University of Calgary and won a national championship before his tragic death in a boating accident earlier this year.

Gay said the increased focus on international competition has dramatically increased travel costs. RNS is seeking community sponsorship to fund the team's expenses.

Last Friday, Grant Thornton became a platinum sponsor for the team.

Gay said the team will continue to focus on improving players on the court and inside the classroom while growing its reputation across Canada.

"It's pretty simple: Get better daily and try to be the best basketball program in the world," he said.