How many athletes do you know who have had their jerseys retired? How many athletes do you know who can say they’ve won a National Championship and been named the Player of the Year for the entire country? How many do you know who can say that over their five-year CIS career, they were a first-team all-star every season? We know one … Keith Vassell, the new head coach of the London Lightning.
Vassell, from Toronto, Ontario, accomplished all of those accolades during his five-year career at Brandon University in Manitoba. And that’s not where his impressive career stops. He was a member of Canada’s national men’s basketball team for 11 years, and was part of Team Canada in Olympic qualifying tournaments, the 1999 Pan-Am Games, the FISU Games, and the World National Championships. He then continued to play and coach overseas in Spain, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Portugal for 11 years, where he won more championships and was named MVP of the Iceland Premier League in 2000.
Most recently, Vassell spent time with the Niagara College Knights’ men’s basketball team where he built a nationally-ranked program and achieved 100% student-athlete academic success. This past season in the National Basketball League of Canada, Vassell was named the interim head coach of the Niagara River Lions, making him familiar with the Lightning.
A soft-spoken, humble man, Vassell now steps into the head coaching job of the NBL’s defending champions, and he’s ready to roll.
“I have to think about that [the success from last season] … In some ways, it’s ‘now where do I fit in? How do I not take away from where they are at, and how do I enhance it?’ said Vassell. “The league is going to be at another level this year, more competitive, so we have to be able to stay on top. Also, hunger is a huge factor. It will be interesting to feel out how satisfied everyone is from last year’s championship. We have to come in hungry for another one and see how far we can take it.”
With a large group of players returning, Vassell is excited to get the season started. And so are Lightning fans. Make sure you get your tickets now to see Coach Vassell and the team in action! Visit www.lightningbasketball.ca to get your tickets!
Submitted by the London Lightning