Talons coach looks at the big picture

Not a lot of basketball teams start practice by watching a football video.

But Gleneagle Talons coach Jason Bingley says building a team is about more than drilling his charges with chase down layups and collision dribbling. He’s forging life lessons that, if properly executed, will apply on the court and off it, in higher education, work and relationships.

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So if it’s a video of a football player gutting out a gruelling workout that will teach his players about commitment and perseverence, the message transcends sidelines and foul lines.

Bingley, 42, is in the home stretch of attaining a Masters degree in coaching from Concordia University-Irvine. He said his ideas about coaching and his role as a coach have evolved along with his studies.

In the 10 years Bingley’s been involved with Talons’ basketball, the team has drifted around the edges of the high school basketball scene. It won its first Fraser North title in 2014 and went to finish sixth at that year's provincials, but has struggled since. And while he said his current crop of players is working hard to change that, their true measure of success will come from how they grow together and support each other as a unit.

“When you’re younger, you view your worth in wins and losses,” Bingley said. “I want to win, but at the end of the day I want to see these kids develop into people we can be proud of.”

That process begins with identifying and building a team culture, something Bingley achieves by assigning homework. Each player is tasked with writing a profile about their expectations, motivations and self-doubts for the season, which is followed up by a one-on-one interview.

“We can’t succeed with a defeatist attitude,” Bingley said. “There has to be accountability to themselves and to each other.”

At a recent practice, Bingley started by gathering the players around to talk about the “tone” of the previous practice, and how they felt they were progressing. 

It’s all about giving the players ownership of their effort, Bingley said.

“If they take ownership, they feel like it’s their team, not coach Bingley’s team,” he said. 

Senior shooting guard George Dome said the self-analysis sessions at the start of practice have become “pretty normal.” He said it’s helped foster a team culture that he’ll be able to bring to other aspects of his life.

“It’s not just about skill,” he said. “Anywhere in life you’re working with others.”

Bingley sad a lot of his ideas about coaching started to formulate under the mentorship of former Talons’ coaches Tony Scott and Andrew Lloyd. He said it’s important for coaches to work together as a community to create a supportive environment for young athletes that challenges them to become become better people.

“Kids face more pressure now,” he said, adding social media has almost become a barrier that makes young people afraid to show failure lest they get shamed on platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

But a good experience on the court or the field can help them overcome that, imparting a passion and work ethic that can bring success in games and resonate for the rest of their lives.

“It’s funner when we all help each other succeed,” he said.

• Jan. 4: Story updated to include Gleneagle's first Fraser North championship in 2014.

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