When Rich Goulet played basketball at St. Thomas More Collegiate, the team worked out on a gravel-strewn outdoor court. They conducted practices and games in elementary school gyms around Burnaby, New Westminster and even the odd infiltration into enemy territory at Vancouver College, their arch-rival.
In the 1970s he taught there and coached the boys’ senior basketball team to a provincial championship in 1975, hosted at STM.
The games were played in an actual gym.
Monday, Goulet, who’s taught and coached at Pitt Meadows secondary for the past 33 years, was back at his old stomping grounds again, this time to be presented with a Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award that is accompanied by a one-time $5,000 grant he’s donated to the St. Thomas More Collegiate Foundation.
The money will go toward the foundation’s current project, a new $8.2-million athletic facility.
While the gym in which he cut his coaching teeth and won his first provincial title has been replaced by an expansive new facility that is nearing completion, the memories surrounded him every way he turned.
Many shook his hand.
Like Mich DesLauriers, the school’s president who played for Goulet on that championship team.
“In the 1970s, basketball put St. Thomas More on the athletics map,” said DesLauriers.
“Goulet’s dedication ensured the seeds were planted for a quality basketball program.”
And Cam Sylvester, who also played for Goulet.
“He taught us how to be men, to live with defeat and to win graciously,” said Sylvester, who’s now the president of the STMC Foundation.
Or Pete Dupuis, who rode the bench much of that championship season but still learned valuable lessons from his coach that have served him through life.
“He told me everyone on a team makes a contribution,” said Dupuis of a conversation he had with Goulet as he weighed quitting the team. “Everyone contributes equally. Even if you practice hard, you’re helping to make the games easier for the starters.”
For Goulet, contributing in a small way to a facility that will help build student athletes into leaders is a fitting legacy for his career as an educator who’s gone on to coach his teams to more than 1,000 victories, tournament and provincial championships too numerous to count and his own induction into STM’s hall of fame.
“All I did was run a basketball program,” said Goulet. “It’s a bit of a role model. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”