Basketball comes full circle for Kabeya at Loyalist
Feb 4, 2017 by Brock Ormond
The sport of basketball has always been in Patrick Kabeya’s blood.
The first-year Loyalist Lancers head coach has taken over a men’s varsity team that went 7-13 in 2015-16 under former coach Ryan Barbeau. He had previously coached the boys team from a Toronto-area high school to an OFSAA bronze medal. Prior to coaching, he spent three years as a star guard with the Lancers from 2011-14, winning male athlete of the year twice in his stay.
The path that led Kabeya to coaching the Lancers following his playing career was one that simply fell into place at the right time, he says.
“It was very strange, because I never really had plans of coaching, to be honest. Once I left (Loyalist), I got with my friend and he brought me around to exposure camps. We went to the AU circuit…we travelled to Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Philadelphia to watch elite teams,” Kabeya explained.
“The more I did it, the more I got drawn to it…I was able to coach in a prep league, then the following year, I just wanted to coach regular high school. That ended up working really well, we went to OFSAA,” he added.
“Everything happens for a reason, I went to OFSAA, our athletic director Jim Buck was there and that’s when we kind of started speaking a little about it,” Kabeya continued.
“We gave it some more time and sure enough, (Loyalist) was the place for me to be.”
As a former player that is only three seasons removed from his career on the court, there are a lot of different tidbits that Kabeya says he has taken from his playing time at Loyalist to the sidelines.
“I learned a lot of life lessons; about discipline, teamwork and how seriously you have to carry yourself on and off the court…In my last year, I loved how serious we were as a team in terms of off the court. Yeah, we may have been friends and everyone would go to class, but on the court, it was business. It was almost like we didn’t know each other.”
Kabeya said as soon as he took over as coach, he wanted to change the way the team had been perceived the last few years, dating back to the tail end of his playing career.
“I think that the team has been in kind of a couple of dark years…so I said when I take over, we need to bring in some character guys that the school will absolutely love. Not just that, but guys that care enough to be in school, because they have to get their grades. You can’t play if you don’t go to class,” Kabeya explained.
“At the same time, we needed to bring in good guys, really good young men. That was my priority, because I feel like that’s the only way you kind of grow,” he added.
So far, through almost a full regular season of coaching at the college level, Kabeya has gotten the most out of those “good guys” and key players, including highly-touted newcomers Tyronn King, Noah Korovesi and Tigh Chapman, along with returning men such as Jamal Okunbor, Aiden Wells, Christopher Asomani and Carter Maschi.
“(As coach) I think the most important thing is that I’m trying to teach the players that you have to build good habits and if you do that, then everything else will take care of itself,” Kabeya said.
“I think we’re a little further along then we would have been…it’s just a testament to how receptive these guys are. I get in their faces and we practice really hard. These guys always find a way to bounce back, so I think that our record is kind of indicative of where everyone is right now,” he added.
“For the most part in the second half, I’ve really liked how competitive these guys have been. I think that things should get better, if not, then it’ll be better by next year.”
For the stretch drive of the season, Kabeya is determined to channel his focus on making sure his team’s priorities don’t get swayed as the games become more pressure-filled.
“As cliche as it may be, we just want to play the right way,” Kabeya said.
“We also want to make sure our veterans are able to teach our young guys as to what kind of basketball we want them to play,” he added.
For the young head coach, there is no other place he would rather be building a second career than Loyalist.
“Hey, I was here for three years. I’m coaching here now, I don’t have my mind set up anywhere else,” Kabeya said with a laugh.