Strength coach a boon for basketball

Fourth-year PhysEd student Nick Boon has developed enduring ties with the Gaels’ men’s team

The “Strength and Conditioning Mini Stream” program pairs PheKin students like Nick Boon (above) with Gaels varsity teams.
The “Strength and Conditioning Mini Stream” program pairs PheKin students like Nick Boon (above) with Gaels varsity teams.

Nick Boon’s love for the game hasn’t faded.

The fourth-year PheKin student has worked with the Gaels men’s basketball team since arriving at Queen’s, taking on a role as strength and conditioning coach this year.

He took the position after working with the men’s volleyball team last winter. It’s part of a hands-on internship program — the Strength and Conditioning Mini Stream — which is run through the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

“It just sort of made sense,” Boon said. “I had played basketball all throughout high school and it was a huge part of my life.”

Despite believing he wasn’t good enough to play CIS basketball, Boon didn’t relinquish his love for the sport.

Determined, he emailed former men’s basketball head coach Rob Smart the summer before he came to Queen’s, asking to work with the team in any capacity. The coaching staff was initially “gung-ho” about the idea, Boon recalled.

“Initially, I would go to all the practices but I was more a bystander than anything,” he said. “I would just help out where I could — running the clock a little bit for scrimmages, or getting water or clean towels.”

But Boon was simply happy to watch, learn and be of assistance when he could. He even travelled with the team and, in second-year, filmed their home games for film sessions. He also jumped in as an extra man in practice drills

when needed.

“I really like being in there with the guys, in terms of the teaching and watching them progress.”

This year, the Gaels are boasting a 9-5 record after a dismal 2-20 showing in 2011-12. Boon’s witnessed the young team’s desire to improve first-hand.

“I think there’s been a lot more energy, a lot more desire,” he said. “The whole idea now is about maintaining standards and becoming a competitive program year in, year out.”

As the team’s official strength coach, he works with players individually in the weightlifting room to improve fitness levels.

Now a seasoned veteran with the program, Boon’s finally taken on a leadership role in the process.

“You don’t really have the confidence to be too vocal in first year, but three and a half years later I’m almost looking for things to say,” he said.

His internship is spearheaded by Rodney Wilson, Queen’s Athletics strength and conditioning coach. The placement pairs students with varsity teams to plan and execute a tailored training program.

For Boon, it was the perfect fit.

“He has such a strong link with the guys that we have a whole different level of bridging between strength and conditioning and the basketball team,” Wilson said. “He knows his stuff and goes above and beyond what’s needed.”

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