By Adam McDougall, St. Thomas University Journalism
Jack is a Grade 12 student and also a Captain of this program. He is one of our day students so he is only one of two students that get to stay at home while playing on this team. Jack can certainly be described as a workaholic and has improved more than anyone else in his duration with this program. He has seen this program grow a lot in his four years and this is his story!
A lot of my teammates are from outside of Saint John, so it’s really cool to be in my hometown and be able to show them around and introduce them to the things that I know and love. Sometimes on weekends I will take the boys out to the mall, or to pick up groceries for their dorms, or to go get haircuts (which we actually do a lot). I have my driver’s licence, which is nice because, not only do I know where to get things, I can actually take my teammates to those places myself. Even on long weekends when some of my teammates can’t get home because of the short break, they’ll come stay the weekend at my house, and we’ll go out and train together. It really is a great experience.
It is amazing to have such a high level program in my hometown. It’s a really unique experience to have people that I’ve known my whole life be able to come to the team’s games and watch some really high level basketball. Our games are always packed. We have a lot of fans, which is nice. We get most excited when we play our home games. We haven’t played that many games at home this year – only about four or five – but when we do play, the fans always show out and support us really well. For me, playing at home has been the highlight of my year.
On the court, I really play anywhere from guard to forward. Wherever Coach needs me to play, really. I’m not quite as skilled as some other people, so I try to focus on bringing energy and defensive intensity while I’m on the court. I try to do whatever I can to help the team – whatever the team needs me to do – whether that’s get rebounds, take charges on defense, or just being loud and getting the other guys involved and excited to play.
Before games, I usually like to put my headphones in and stop talking to people. I like to plan the game in my head, and think about what I might need to do in the game, or think about any adjustments I have to make because of who we are playing. I like to clear my mind as well, by taking myself away from social media or anything else that might distract me and, instead, focusing strictly on basketball.
When I came to RNS in Grade 9, I was the twelfth man on the bench, so I did not really get any minutes. I have always loved basketball, and I’ve always wanted to play, but when I wasn’t getting the minutes I wanted, I knew that I had to put in a work just to be able to play. I went from being the last man off the bench in Grade 9 – when I was essentially not playing – to now. Currently, I am a starter in my senior year. I think it was just the desire to play and the love I have for the game that drove me to improve and earn the minutes I have now.
The area in which I have improved the most has undoubtedly been my shooting. When I came to RNS, I wasn’t really a shooter – at all. But now, my main role is to shoot and get open in the corners while my teammates are a little bit flashier. I’m pretty much like the release for my teammates – if they can’t get all the way to the hoop they can kick out to me and I’ll hit a shot. I also feel like I’ve improved a lot mentally. When I came to RNS in Grade 9, I was fairly shy and I did not talk much. I was just a guy who was on the team and would stand there and listen to what everyone else would say, but I would never really talk much. I was really reserved in Grade 9. Now, I have more of a leadership role. I’m a captain now, so I talk more and help the other guys as much as I can.
Right now, I’m working towards going to university and playing basketball at the next level. I’ve always wanted to play, but ever since Grade 9, my coach has told me that, although it would be possible for me to play university basketball, it would be really difficult. He told me that I would have to work hard to get there. So now, I’m just working to be able to play at that next level.