River Lions launch free coaching program
Niagara River Lions head coach Victor Raso’s basketball coaching career wouldn’t have been possible without the mentorship he received along the way.
It started with Jeff Joseph, who coached him in the Blessed Sacrament travel program and later at McMaster. Joseph is now a member of the River Lions staff.
“He still coaches me from the bench,” Raso said.
Other important mentors for Raso were his father Joe, a former head coach at McMaster, and Dave Smart, the former head coach at Carleton.
All three were part of the inspiration for the River Lions launching its Community Coaches Program.
“That’s why this program is free because my mentors did it all for me for free,” Raso said.
The program features year-round professional development including: virtual coaching sessions; sample practice plans; the opportunity to attend team practices throughout the season; the chance to be in the River Lions locker room on game day; and, discounts on Fox 40 products and group tickets.
The River Lions organization started thinking about trying to run the program about a year ago but then COVID got in the way.
“We figured this is the season to get it started by Zoom and then hopefully move into gyms next year,” Raso said.
The first online training session will be held March 10 and he is encouraging coaches to sign up.
“Come in with an open mind. The whole program is designed to give good and proper feedback, education and knowledge transfer to coaches at any level,” Raso said.
Raso’s staff includes: former Canadian university player of the year and McMaster women’s assistant coach Danielle Boiago; Ridley College coach Mick Bett, who has coached overseas; and, Niagara College women’s coach Chris Rao.
“We have a very unique set of coaches and the sessions are going to be for all levels. It’s not just what the pro level Niagara River Lions do. It will be about how to properly give feedback to your players, how to create a structure for your offence, and basic stuff that any coach at any level will be able to learn from and gain from.”
But that’s not the only objective.
“It’s a chance to build the coaching community a little bit in Niagara,” Raso said. “It is a good opportunity for everyone to come together, learn together and then in the summer, come to our practices and see how we can transfer some of the things we talked about in the coaching sessions to the actual floor.”
To register or get information about the program visit www.riverlions.ca/communitycoaches.
To purchase season tickets visit www.riverlions.ca/seasontickets.