Will Coulthard and Peter Campbell create an unspeakable bond

Will Coulthard flourished under Peter Campbell’s wing


Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

Following a close playoff loss to the Brock Badgers, an era came to a close in the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk men’s basketball history book.

Sure, head coach Peter Campbell leaves the program with an undetermined bench boss. But so too does Laurier say goodbye to an unspeakable bond between Campbell and fifth-year all-star, Will Coulthard.

A systematic coach and player relationship had clearly flourished into a motivational story in itself. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the rookie guard.

The Oakville native came to Laurier in 2011 with high aspirations of achieving an education from a reputable university and being able to play varsity basketball under Campbell.

Coulthard graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School with an A average, plenty of ambition and a goal to be one of the best basketball players Laurier has seen. But following his first year of enrolment as a geography major, Coulthard began to feel the pressures of university in addition to a demanding varsity basketball schedule.

“When I got here, it was a big change, I wasn’t really used to it or ready for it,” said Coulthard.

Falling into academic probation, the status of his academic and athletic integrity were looking unattractive.

“He wasn’t in good shape,” said coach Campbell.

In the 2011-12 season, Coulthard was honoured with a place on the Ontario University Athletics West all-rookie team, but was still experiencing the changes of the university routine. His grades still weren’t great.

“He comes in and he’s even better than you were hoping, in the sense that he’s rookie of the year, and all of a sudden, he might not be back,” Campbell said.

But as proven on the court, Coulthard doesn’t give up. He was able to redeem himself through the spring term after his first season. Succeeding with his course load, the up-and-coming star was able to use his time better throughout the year with basketball and school.

Coulthard and Campbell developed a relationship that extended past the hardwood. While talks of Campbell retiring and conflicts arised amongst the team, Campbell was uncertain if they would continue their journey at Laurier. Providing Coulthard with a few words of encouragement, Campbell was adamant on motivating the Oakville native.

“‘I’ll commit to stay as long as you stay, or if you think it’ll be better, I’ll go now,’ ” Campbell would tell Coulthard.

The ambitious rookie ensured coach Campbell that everything would be okay, and the two created a bond that would continue through the next few years of Coulthard’s playing time at Laurier. While Coulthard’s on-the-court performance has been astonishing enough — the senior finishes his time with 1,594 points, only the third-ever Hawk to achieve this — his academic record improved exponentially.

During the 2013-14 season, Coulthard was awarded the Canadian Interuniversity Sport academic all-Canadian award. The following year, he was awarded the Luke Fusco academic athletic achievement award, which honours the Laurier male and female athletes who best combine academic and athletic achievements.

So as Coulthard finished his final year, so too did Campbell, choosing to retire at the end of this season. And now, the next time these two are in Laurier’s Athletic Complex, it will be remembering the journey they were both on.

“It hasn’t been the easiest five years, but it’s been a good five years, and it’s been great,” Campbell said.

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