Have you ever wished there was a gym that was always open to train in, or to play pickup in? I’ve always been tired of trying to get a hoop down at a local recreation center, only to be told that there was floor hockey coming in to decimate the gymnasium floor, or a large group of young children to play duck-duck-goose for hours on end, or even something as silly as kite flying. Such a problem is a rarity at Pitt Meadows Secondary School: one can virtually stop at any time at the Pitt Meadows Secondary gym and see the red Ford Ranger and the “COACH G” license plate to know the gym is available. Pitt Meadows Secondary, a school of roughly 1,250, possesses one of the finest programs in the province, built from the ground up by Rich Goulet.
Since the program’s launch in 1979, Goulet has been tirelessly putting in work, morphing the program into one of the finest AAA programs in the province. However, it hasn’t been a cakewalk; according to Goulet, “the program started inauspiciously in 1979. It was not a slam dunk. After running two suicides at the first practice, players headed for the doors. They were done. The 8 who came back formed the team and they did not win a game until Christmas.”Goulet wouldn’t give up, though and “1 year later we were on the doorstep of the A BC [provincial championships] (only A and AA back then) and then in year 3 we [were] 4th place at the BC’s and then winning it in 1983.”
Pitt would continue to take baby steps, getting closer to that “slam dunk” until 1989, when, in their first ever AAA Provincial championship tournament appearance, they finished first. Not bad for a team who ten years ago would not have even rung a bell. Interestingly enough, Goulet’s work was enough to win a Provincial championship with a team severely undersized. As Goulet would own, they “were a small team by standards, with no one over 6’3.” How can a team desperately lacking height manage to win a provincial championship? Defence. Goulet admits that much of “Pitt’s success is also owed to one of the best and most consistent defences in the province, especially the last 12 years.” I can attest to this from my own playing days with Goulet: if you cannot stop your man on a consistent basis, you sit. Sure we’ve heard it all before, and maybe it’s a little cliché, but it works well enough for him to become the first coach with both an AA and AAA provincial title. In fact, it’s good enough for two AAA provincial titles (thus far), one in 1989 against cross town rivals Maple Ridge Ramblers, and another in 2000 against yet another Fraser Valley rival, the Terry Fox Ravens. Pitt has made its presence felt at many Provincial championships, making eleven AAA appearances (including five straight from 2004-2008), and six AA appearances.
Ironically, although Goulet’s first (AA) provincial title boasted no player over 6’3”, Pitt Meadows has since had a rich tradition of height throughout the 90s, and stretching into today. Some of the most memorable big men to come out of Pitt Meadows include Curtis Mempham, Scott Walton, Aaron Christenson, Bryson Kool, Gary Pelton and Mike Lewandowski – all 6’7” or taller. Pitt Meadows has also had an equally impressive amount of perimeter players to have come out of the program. Dylan Gatner, one of Pitt Meadow’s greatest players, can also concur with Goulet’s drive: “I’d say he’s a very dedicated man who puts in tons of work into the Pitt Meadows Program. Since helping out with the grade 8 team this year, I can only further emphasize this point. He gives Canadian high school kids a unique athletic experience which is full of hard work and excellent opportunities.”
2007′s Dylan Gatner trains with Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns at UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium ^
I can also add to Goulet’s dedication: when I was in grade ten, I returned to Pitt Meadows from a year played in Minnesota. While playing Junior boys basketball for one of Pitt’s greatest, Scott Walton, I was living only minutes from Goulet. Goulet would show up at my door every morning at 7 A.M. to drive me to school on his way so I could train early before school. He didn’t have to do that. He also doesn’t have to stay from 7:30 A.M. until 10 P.M. every day, or to open up the gym in the summer for kids to work at their game, or to help kids on his own time to develop, or even help his players deliver phonebooks and fundraise. He doesn’t have to, but he wants to. Winning isn’t for everyone.
My brother, Doug, who attended Pitt in grades 8 and 9, never even played for Coach Goulet, but even he, long removed from Pitt Meadows, acknowledges Goulet’s work ethic and dedication to the program. He admits: “I’ve been to the States, and I’ve never seen dedication like that. Not even down there, not like that.” Doug played for Hastings High School (Minnesota) from grades 10 through 12, and completing a year playing a high level of division 2 basketball for Minnesota State University-Mankato, currently in the elite eight for division 2, before returning home to play for the UFV Cascades, and eventually and presently, the UBC Thunderbirds.
Goulet is always emailing, fundraising, organizing and improving his program, acquiring invites to trips such as the BRIT, held in Saskatoon, the Maui Winter Classic, held at the Lahaina Civic Center, home to the annual NCAA Division 1 pre-season tournament. Players who have played for Goulet and the Pitt Meadows program are as fortunate as they come, going on annual trips to hot spot tropical destinations such as Hawaii, Florida or California. Players also receive a letterman jacket once reaching senior boys basketball, with their name, graduation year, jersey number and position, including the well known “PITT” scrolling across the back. Pitt players also receive team shoes annually and new uniforms every two years – talk about lucky. Goulet also hosts his well known “shooter’s camp” – a camp centered around building and mastering good shooting form and correcting bad habits – his “team camp” and he is also an active member of Basketball BC.
2011′s Malcolm Williams >
Say what you will about Rich Goulet: that he’s grumpy, too serious, and the flex is outdated. However, you have to respect the man and the program he has built over the last quarter century through no secret formula, except pure hard work, dedication and passion. Goulet demands the best out of his players not only on the court, but off the court as well, as he aids their development into fine young men and student-athletes.
So go ahead, hate the Pitt Meadows Marauders program, just know that they’re loved for the exact same reasons. Hate and jealousy go hand in hand.