Project Description

slider-6The players in Joe Ogmundson’s Chilliwack secondary school girls’ basketball programs used to get a t-shirt.

On that t-shirt were the words, ‘I want to play like,’ followed by a loooong list of names. Tamara Carruthers at the University of Victoria. Patti Olsen at Douglas College. Amy Hatt at Simon Fraser University. Heather McFee at Briercrest College. Amanda Forstbauer with the Augustana Vikings. The list went on and on and on.

“Eventually, we stopped making the t-shirts because the list just got too long,” Ogmundson laughed.

Carruthers was the first to emerge from Ogmundson’s basketball program.

“She was a walk on at UVic and ended up setting records for three point shooting,” the coach said proudly. “(UVic coach) Kathy Shields said she just couldn’t get rid of her. Tamara kept playing her way back onto the roster every year.”

Ogmundson grads helped build the University of the Fraser Valley into a women’s basketball powerhouse.

Going back to the UCFV days, his program produced 13 future Cascades; Nicole Hill, Natasha Younker, Carly Brogan, Laura Hallinan, Brooke Veschuur, Alyssa Gaukel, Danielle Christian and Tiffany Bosell among others.

The most recent UFV squad, one that has made several runs at CIS national supremacy, included the Wierks sisters, Nicole and Sarah, Courtney Bartel and Alexa McCarthy

“I’ve been to a couple UVic versus UFV games where Vanessa Forstbauer was out there for UVic against all the CSS girls on UFV. And when you ask about achievements, that’s what I was always most proud of,” Ogmundson said. “Not wins and championships, but having three or four dozen girls go on to play basketball on someone else’s dollar.”

More than one UFV coach has referred to Ogmundson’s program as a ‘basketball factory,’ though he grimaces when he hears that phrase.

“To me, that implies some sort of churning-out process, and I don’t see it that way,” Ogmundson said. “A greenhouse isn’t a vegetable factory, it’s a place where peppers and cucumbers are able to grow. Our program isn’t a factory that churns out players. It’s a place that allows kids to find their passion and develop.”

Ogmundson’s school coaching history dates back to 1974.

St. Mary’s Catholic School was a junior high school back then, and Ogmundson ran the Grade 8-10 boys basketball team for six years.

His CSS tenure started in 1985.

“The thought that was that I could coach girls basketball, and when that other guy gets out of the way, I’ll coach the boys,” Ogmundson said, not knowing at the time that Joe Mauro would never, ever, ever leave.

Ogmundson grew to love the girls’ game, and in particular, those light-going-on moments when one of his players ‘got it.’

“Any teacher loves that moment, and I remember coaching Alexa McCarthy and her turning to me and saying, ‘I think I see the game the way you do now,’” he said. “Having that relationship between the point guard and coach was really exciting, because she was on the floor, seeing situations the way I would see them.”

Ogmundson’s coaching persona has evolved through the years.

“If you asked my players back in 1978, it would be the chair chucker, because Bobby Knight was chucking chairs back then and he was a star,” Ogmundson laughed. “I saw some of the high-level coaches in the Fraser Valley were chucking chairs too, and I thought that was how you were supposed to do it. I didn’t know there was another way for a long time, but now, my players would certainly say I’m more cerebral and relaxed than I was back then.”

Like any great coach, Ogmundson credits those who coached him.

He’s got all the time in the world to talk about a guy like Jack Covey, another of Chilliwack’s coaching legends.

“I really believe that if you want to do something well, copy someone who is already doing it well, and Jack was so dedicated, even tempered and knowledgeable,” he said. “I went to workshops and did all sorts of professional development. I studied whatever I was coaching at the time and really enjoyed that cerebral side. How can we do this better? I had coaches back in high school (at St. Thomas More), coaches whose name I can’t even remember now, but I remember what they did, the way they taught us skills and made us feel important.”

Ogmundson’s coaching resume surpasses nearly all of his former coaches, and he’s far from done.

Now, he’s going to be a Hall of Famer.

“I have no idea what I’m doing here, with an Olympian (Dave Archibald) and a championship fastball team,” he said. “I’m a very wordy guy, but when Judy (Fitzsimmons, CSHOF president) called me, I think it was the first time I was without something to say.”