Lambton College celebrated a number of athletic accomplishments this month as students were recognized for achievements in their sport. These students are supported by a key group of individuals and each year one of these College community members is recognized for their dedication by receiving the 'Heart of the Lion Award'.
The award was established in 2016 and is presented to "any individual associated with Lambton College Athletics who has exceeded the expected with respect to their effort, commitment, and desire to their team, community or the athletic program overall."
The 2018 recipient of this award is Paul Doyle.
Coach Doyle has been with the Lambton College men's basketball team for seven years and has now been on the bench for over 90 collegiate wins, three trips to the OCAA Championships as well as for the first division one OCAA medal in program history. He has been instrumental in providing leadership and support to our men's basketball players during his time here at the College. Doyle is a former principal, teacher and high school basketball coach who has shown the ability to connect with our players as both students and athletes. His efforts could not be more important as our varsity program continues to be very competitive in Canada's most difficult men's basketball division.
Paul was presented with the Heart of the Lion award at this year's Athletics Banquet by Rob Kardas, Vice President, Student Success & Campus Services. Prior to receiving his commemorative plaque he was introduced by Coach James Grant who was a high school player for Doyle at St. Patrick's in Sarnia.
VIDEO - Coach Grant introduces Paul Doyle and talks about his impact on Lambton Basketball
Doyle had the following to say about his time with the Lions.
"My association with the Lambton Lions men's basketball team began seven years ago. I remember James' enthusiasm as he told me about this recruit from Brantford who could not be stopped. Although the team had not won in a long time, James believed things were about to change.
It was hard to believe that a small college with no tradition of basketball success could ever be competitive with the powerhouses at Sheridan, Mohawk and Humber. Those schools had much larger pools of players to draw from; their facilities were superior; they had well earned and schoolwide sports cultures developed over many decades; they had more money and more resources. These forces and others besides presented formidable obstacles.
Although winning did not come right away, it turned out that James was right. A few pieces were added, practices became tighter and more focused when Keith Concisom joined the program, and the players began to believe what James believed, that even as a small school like Lambton could compete.
The program continues to be successful even as players come and go. It will be a daunting task to replace Branden Padgett and Jason Marshell just as it was when Mike Lucier left. But there is a plan and the team will continue to strive for success. The hardest part is always at the start when doubts about even the possibility of success are faced and overcome. James will be the first to say that the support of administration has been crucial to the team's ability to compete. The new facility is already paying dividends in the team's ability to recruit players. The team is grateful to those who fought for this. The student body has played a supporting role as well. We will never forget those electric nights in our small gym.
Even as the team looks confidently to the future, the problems of a small school being competitive with top tier teams remain. With limited resources, the Lions have had to be more innovative in recruiting, more diligent in scouting, and more willing to try new things. The result has been a style of play that is appealing to players and fans alike.
The Lambton Lions men's team provides a rallying point for the College. In time the women's team will do the same. What the men's team has demonstrated is that significant limitations can be overcome. With a vision and a plan, people can do great things when they have support. In the case of a small school, schoolwide support is essential. Such support is especially important when the goal is to sustain the success.
The success we have achieved is rare. It is rightly celebrated. Sustaining that success will not be easy and I don't pretend to know what that will take. What I do know, however, is that we will continue to do our best. We will find good people who will sacrifice so that one person can do the work of two. The success of the men's basketball program is a win for Lambton College. I am happy to continue to do my part within the greater school community to make sure that continues."
Paul Doyle and the Lambton Lions will hit the court again on May 16th, 2018 at the Athlete Institute in Orangeville as they welcome the United States Naval Academy (NCAA D1) to Canada.
Congratulations on an award well deserved, Paul.