Jim Flack: The man behind the bench

Jim Flack

Jim Flack commands his team from the sideline


The 50-year-old head coach of the Sheridan Bruins men’s basketball team, Jim Flack, recorded his 600th win as a collegiate head coach to cap off 2014.

“It’s a milestone for sure,” offered Flack. “We’ve done some different things in my tenure here and I’ve been able to succeed over a long period of time and have a sustained success and so it feels great to have lasted this long.”

The Bruins earned the win in a non-conference game against the Seneca Sting, 88-68.

Flack’s career win-loss record is 603-225 and is the winningest of all active coaches in the OCAA.

Over his career, the Bruins’ head coach racked up a multitude of accolades, winning seven OCAA championships, seven medals and nine OCAA coach of the year awards.

At the national level, Flack has won five medals and a CCAA coach of the year in 2001-2002.

Flack began his coaching career with Sheridan as an assistant coach under Wayne Allison, now an OCAA hall of famer. Allison still teaches math in the general arts and sciences program at the Davis Campus.

Flack then moved on to coach at Seneca College for one season before receiving a call from the retiring Allison, to return to the Bruins.

Allison believes that Flack’s passion and dedication for the game is what made him stand out from other coaches across the OCAA.

“Jim owns a bulldog,” said Allison, “so he likes to use that reference all the time. He’s a bulldog.

“He loves teaching the game, he loves executing the x’s and o’s and he’s a great recruiter. Jim has always found a way to lure in great athletes.”

The 23-year coach insisted that talented players and a “top shelf” coaching staff have always been key factors to his success as a head coach at Sheridan.

Leroy Cassanova, a 15-year-long assistant coach of the Bruins, calls Flack a “basketball junkie.”

“Nobody prepares harder than him,” said Cassanova. “He watches a lot of film and a lot of tape. His knowledge of the game, he just never stops trying to learn it and he’s a real student of the game.”

Flack’s team has hit a rough patch this season with a losing record of seven wins and 10 losses in the OCAA. The Bruins are one spot out of the playoffs with one game left to play this season at Niagara College.

“We need to get some wins under our belt, and if we don’t make it, it won’t be for a lack of trying,” said Flack. “As my mother always tells me, ‘Smooth waters don’t make for a good sailor.’ ”

Bruins’ centre, Murray Hendry from Oakville, notes that his coach does what it takes to get them the win.

Flack believes that Sheridan’s basketball program can compete with the best schools in Canada and called the OCAA one of the toughest leagues in the country. “From Ontario to the east coast, there aren’t any universities that we haven’t played and beat.”

Flack’s favourite coaching memory was winning his seventh Ontario championship at Sheridan last year.

“Winning the seventh championship was really cool,” said Flack. “We were able to do it in front of our hometown fans.”

The Georgetown native knows what it is like to be on the other side of the bench after a prolific career at Streetsville Secondary School, being the first three-time Peel regional all-star and playing one season for York University.

“I had an incredibly successful high school career and a very forgettable university career, from an individual perspective,” said Flack. “I only played one year of university basketball.”

Flack likes to remind his athletes that he was once in their position and that life goes on after basketball.

“You need to prepare,” encouraged Flack. “I was young once, I was an all-star, I played on a championship team, but before you know it, that’s done, so you better have an education to move on.”

Flack and his wife Sheryl’s daughter, Riel, plays basketball at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in Mississauga as well as for the Sultan Prospects, a U17 girl’s basketball rep team for the Ontario Basketball Association.

“Like I tell my daughter, she’s 16, you need to be able to move on after basketball is done. She is a pretty good basketball player and she’s going to go to school to play one day,” said Flack.

After one season as a reserve with York University, the young Flack knew his playing days were over.

He went on to take his master’s in education at Niagara University in Lewiston, NY before returning to Brampton to teach history and political sciences at North Park Secondary School.

Flack taught at North Park for 11 years and coached track, baseball and basketball for the first three years. He stayed with North Park for the first eight years after beginning his career as a collegiate coach and settling in with the Bruins.

Flack left his high school teaching job when he had the chance to become the athletic director at Sheridan. Flack has remained athletic director for 14 years.

“Jim was instrumental in getting the new gym built at the Davis Campus,” said Allison. “He was more than instrumental in getting the soccer field built in Oakville, he established the Bruins’ hall of fame, and he’s a full time academic advisor for his athletes.”

Sheridan has the best support system for kids to succeed academically in any college or university in Ontario according to Allison

The Bruins’ hall of fame has inducted athletes, coaches, builders of athletic departments and championship teams.

“Jim does a lot to get better as a coach and get us better as a program, and not just the basketball program but all of the programs at Sheridan,” said Cassanova. “He really believes in equal opportunity for all of the programs and all of the players.”

The executive director of the OCAA, Blair Webster, said, “Jim is the only who is a coach and an athletic director. He’s a great supporter of college athletics and always has the best interest of his players in mind and I think he’s caused a number of his colleagues to open his eyes and focus on the academic component to our business.”

Flack said that he still has some work to do as a coach and as an athletic director to get the programs to where he would like them to be.

The long-time Bruins coach is also responsible for bringing the Sheridan Cup to the college 21 years ago. The Sheridan Cup is an annual high school basketball tournament hosted at the Davis Campus that brings some of the top teams in the region and took place on Jan. 30-31, this year.

“I feel like I say this every year,” said Flack, “but this is definitely one of my favourite weekends of the basketball season.”

The tournament is a tool devised by Flack to scout some potential soon-to-be Bruins and give young players a taste of the Sheridan community. Flack notes that several of his players this year have participated in the tournament.

“I want to be remembered as an educator,” said Flack. “I am 100 per cent convinced that the court is an extension of the classroom and the coaches I respect the most are the ones that try to graduate players.”