Local Coach Pushes Leadership and Teamwork


In his role as a basketball coach, James Bartlett is focused on teaching his athletes about more than how to shoot hoops.

“Basketball is important,” he says. “But not that important. For me, the most important thing is helping these guys grow into responsible, respectful men.”

Bartlett and his family have lived in Niverville for five years, and this year he’s been coaching the junior varsity boys basketball team at Collège Régional Gabrielle-Roy in Île-des-Chênes.

This isn’t his first coaching role. Over the years, he has acted as coach for multiple sports. Partly, it’s because of his seven children.

“As my kids grow up, I try to stay involved in their lives,” says the father of seven. His oldest son, Noah, is on the junior varsity team at Gab-Roy.

But Bartlett also wanted to be involved in coaching because he sees it as a way to help the community and the kids in general. 

“The leadership skills that people learn through sports are awesome,” the coach says. “As coaches, we can help them develop as leaders, good sports, and respectful people.”

Bartlett was proud that his team recently made a midgame comeback to defeat the top-seeded Niverville team, advancing their hopes of earning the school’s first basketball banner since 1991. But his proudest moment of the season was when he was contacted by a player’s parent.

“We got a message from [a parent] saying that on the way home from a game, their son thanked them for their support and sacrifices to allow him to play on the team,” he explains.

Bartlett speaks to his team frequently about respect, and tries to remind them that playing on a team is a privilege, not a right. To earn this privilege, all team members had to sign a contract committing to maintaining passing grades in all classes at all times, as well as being respectful and responsible representatives of their school.

In talking about his role as a coach, Bartlett is quick to praise the team members, and even quicker to share the credit with others. He is always aware of the time and effort families put into supporting their student athletes, and he speaks glowingly of the dedication of teachers in school sports—particularly, of course, his co-coach, Bernard Poirier.

Noah says that his dad has always pushed him and his teammates to do their best both on and off the court.

“He expects a lot from us,” the 15-year-old says. “He expects us to be good at sports, to be good kids, to pass our classes—and he won’t let me get passed with a low passing grade. He wants the best out of all of us.”

When asked if they feel any stress about living in Niverville but playing for Île-des-Chênes, both father and son laugh. Bartlett points out that while his son plays against Niverville in basketball, he plays for Niverville during baseball season. 

As for Noah, he thinks it’s great to have friends on both sides of the court.

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