The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association is pleased to announce that Chris Utz (pictured 3rd from the left) has been named the 2012 recipient of the WMBA Bruce Russell Coach of the Year Award.  Presenting the award on Tuesday evening this week was Liza Russell along with her daughters.  Chris has been coaching has been involved in the game of basketball for 9 years, 7 as of player and 2 as a coach.  This past season, Chris was the coach of the Portage la Prairie boys team that competed in the Rising Stars League.


Quotes from nominations:

” I’ve never seen anything but positive interaction between him and game officials. Some much so that I’ve seen both eh and referees having a chuckle during a pause in play. He also seems to have a good rapport with opposing coaches. Whether we win or lose, he’s positive with ghe guys and discussing what wen well and what could be improved nest time”.

” Chris’ positive attitude and model behaviour on and off the court make him an ideal coach. He has taught the players not only the skills of the game, but how to play as a team, He is not a fanatic; if players have other obligations, he just asks to be informed. He instructs both the team as a group and individual players. He has taken many opportunities to work one on one with all of our players”.

Upon receiving notification that he had been named the WMBA Coach of the Year, Chris commented: “ I gave up on focusing on winning and decided to support the kids in every way possible by giving rides and being their for them in any way possible”…

The award recognizes a coach who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to Fair Play, shows exemplary commitment to the team, serves as a model for other coaches to emulate and demonstrates concern for players outside the game. Prior to the selection committee seeing the nominations, all names and club references are removed to eliminate any biases in making the decision. In all, 5 WMBA coaches were nominated for the award – all very deserving in their own right for the recognition.The Bruce Russell Memorial Coaches Award has been established by the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association in partnership with Waverley Heights Community Centre to recognize Bruce Russell’s outstanding commitment to his role as a basketball coach and his unbridled enthusiasm for the philosophy of the league. Regrettably, Bruce passed away as a result of cancer in April 2001.Bruce had a tremendous passion for the game of basketball. He played the game for over 20 years, first at the high school level for St. Paul’s and Dakota, and then annually in the Greater Winnipeg Men’s basketball League. A very good player in his own right, Bruce’s true calling was coaching. Bruce took up coaching duties in the 1999 WMBA season for the 8&9 Coed Waverley Heights Warriors, a team his daughter played on. Bruce’s patience, experience and attention to practice drills helped the team learn the fundamentals of the game. His commitment to fair play made sure all the kids participated and had a positive experience playing in the WMBA. Although they lost more games than they won that season, it was evident the kids had fun and the coach had tasted true success when he said, “I love the feeling you get when you see the kids play.” 

For more information on the Bruce Russell Award, CLICK HERE.

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