Justin Serresse coaches Team Red to victory at Biosteel all Canadian game

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Photo by Isaak Wong

Wilfrid Laurier University’s men’s varsity basketball head coach Justin Serresse coached Team Red to a victory at the Biosteel All Canadian Boys Basketball Game on Mar. 31 in Toronto. The game consisted of the top 24 male Canadian high school basketball players. Coach Serresse coached some of the players on his team in the past and he has now established a little bit of a connection with them.

“What’s fun is that even though I don’t see these kids very often, I see them every now and then when we’re recruiting. So you recreate a little bond with those guys over the summer. Every time we see each other, it’s all love. We all follow each other on Instagram and I follow their careers. Just seeing their growth is amazing. It was a blessing for me in terms of coaching the game,” he said.

Coach Serresse wasn’t the only Golden Hawk at the game as fellow Hawk Chuder Teny also joined Serresse on the coaching staff.

Teny is in his fifth year at Laurier and he played for the men’s varsity basketball team for all five years. He is now set to help Serresse coach the Laurier team this upcoming fall.

“It was almost like an interview weekend with [Chuder Teny]. I was just observing how he was interacting with players, how he handled himself in practice and stuff like that. I already saw a lot of potential in terms of his ability to relate to players, gathering information for the staff, getting close with the players and creating trust. He didn’t know any of the guys on the team but it felt like he knew them. That’s a good sign for me,” Serresse said.

“We have a lot of older coaches and realistically we want a balance of both younger and older coaches. It’s not going to be perfect, it’s a work in progress and we’re still working on his confidence. It’s going to be interesting to see how he handles it because it’s not always going to be as smooth as it was this weekend.”

Teny and the rest of the Laurier men’s basketball team had an outstanding 2018-19 season as they reached the OUA semi-finals. Under coach Serresse, the team has improved every single season and although the players have learned a lot from their head coach; Serresse has learned just as much from the players as well.

“I have learned a lot from their honesty, commitment, trust and belief. They want it badly and that makes me want it for them. They trust me a lot and each and every year, they trust me even more. This season, we never had an instance where the guys would second guess what I said. As long as I’m confident and I believe in the system that I put in place, the guys will follow one hundred percent,” he said.

“The goal was clearly unrealistic, but we believed that we can do it. It’s easy to make excuses but it’s a lot harder to just make it happen. Our focus is on what we have and it’s all about winning a national championship. This past year, we were happy with how well we did but we weren’t satisfied. That’s our motto, to never be satisfied.”

“We always ask the players for feedback on everything and it’s very honest. They know that. I’m the type of person that can take criticism and if we disagree, then we all work hard to find common ground. Every single guy on the team has told me that they like the fact that they can talk to me. They have a voice, they’re going to be heard and respected.”

After a season where the purple and gold exceeded all expectations, coach Serresse wants to take his team even further next year.

“Next year, we want go to even further and compete for a national championship. Every year, people are surprised by how far we make it and every year we overachieve. So why not [overachieve] again next year? If everything goes well, we keep growing, we keep getting better and we stay healthy, we can go even further. Even during my first year, we had the same mentality. If we make the playoffs, we’re two games away from the nationals. What’s the big deal about that?”

Although a national championship may seem too big of a goal for this Laurier team to many, Serresse and the players believe that they can go as far as they want.

“The goal was clearly unrealistic, but we believed that we can do it. It’s easy to make excuses but it’s a lot harder to just make it happen. Our focus is on what we have and it’s all about winning a national championship. This past year, we were happy with how well we did but we weren’t satisfied. That’s our motto, to never be satisfied.”

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