By Shelden Rogers
BELLEVILLE – This time last year Ryan Barbeau was facing the end of his basketball career as a result of injuries. Now he finds himself in a place he didn’t expect: coaching the Loyalist Lancers men’s basketball team.
Barbeau, 25, says he never imagined shouting instructions at a team from the sidelines, and in fact had hoped that at this point in his life he would still be playing ball. But his body had other ideas.
The Belleville native comes from a basketball-obsessed family, and has been playing for as long as he can remember.
He started playing competitively when he was in the third grade, and was a member of teams that won multiple championships when he attended Belleville’s Nicholson Catholic College high school. He then played for five years at Western University, where he served as team captain, and was a league all-star.
After university Barbeau spent three months in Germany on a semi-pro contract. But injuries stalled his career. He developed stress fractures in his shins during his fifth year at Western. When he went overseas his legs were still bothering him, and he eventually tore his meniscus and his medial collateral ligament. He got to the point where he couldn’t even walk. That was when he decided to head back home.
When he got there, Loyalist came calling with an offer for a coaching position. He says he wasn’t sure he wanted to get back into basketball, but his competitive nature won out.
Barbeau now coaches alongside his father, Jim Barbeau, who looks after the assistant coaching duties. Ryan Barbeau says his father taught him everything he knows about the game. He also coached him to those high-school championships.
He is still getting used to the new working relationship with his dad, he said.
Barbeau says that now he sees a future in coaching and hopes to one day take it to a different level.