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Wilma Downing, a life-long basketball coach

In 1891 at a YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass., a Canadian athletic instructor invented a simple game involving a ball tossed into a peach basket. It would take nearly a century for basketball to gain worldwide prominence and develop its own culture, fashion and vibe. Along the way, Canadians have played a huge role in popularizing the sport, on the street, in gyms and in the professional ranks.

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Wilma Downing may be nearly 75, but she continues to teach the game she loves to girls she cares about. Just don't get the impression Downing is a softie. "All girls don't get along, and sometimes one is yelling at the other and I just tell them if you're on a team ... you keep quiet about it. This is a team sport and if you don't, you'll be sitting on the bench," she says in this 2001 CBC-TV clip from Canada Now. The Grade 6 girls at Athabasca School in Regina seem to like her approach, saying she "helps you if you've done something wrong" and "makes even the hard stuff really fun."
Wilma Downing is an inductee in the Regina Sports Hall of Fame in the category of Builder: Multi-Sport. On its website, the Hall notes some of Downing's accomplishments:
  • She taught English, health and physical education at Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina from 1956-1990. During that time she coached the basketball and track and field teams. Her girls' basketball teams won nine city high school championships, and the track teams captured 25 city titles.

• From 1958-69, Downing served three terms as president of the Regina High School Athletics Association.

• In 1990, the school's gymnasium was named in her honour, as was the trophy given to the winner of the Regina Intercollegiate Basketball League girls' championship.

• Downing has also won several educational and volunteer awards, including the Saskatchewan Physical Education Award of Merit and the Regina Volunteer Award.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: Feb. 7, 2001
Guest(s): Wilma Downing, Porscha Fordham, Amanda MacCormack
Reporter: Marilyn Maki
Duration: 2:43

Last updated: February 14, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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