By Joey Smith
BIBLE HILL – Colin James sees great potential in the Cobequid Spartans gymnastics program, and is thrilled with the opportunity to help athletes realize it.
James, 35, the new head coach of the Spartans men’s team, arrived from Vancouver three months ago after coaching at the provincial level for the past eight years in Surrey, B.C.
His knowledge and experience should pay dividends for the Spartans, as the former three-time Gymnastics B.C. provincial coach of the year is keen on not only developing a successful men’s program, but also increasing the profile of the local club.
“What I’m hoping to do is expand gymnastics in people’s vocabulary, or just the presence that there is a club in Truro,” said the Winnipeg native. “We are trying to grow, we are trying to better the club and I think that was part of the reason why I came, is that there is potential to grow as far as athletes and space.”
In his role at the Gym-Ex in Bible Hill, James is responsible for pre-competitive and competitive men’s programs, allowing fellow coach Erin Simpson to focus more on the women’s teams.
“In the short term, I’d like to grow the program,” he said. “I’d like to have as many athletes as possible on the boys side. Long term would be to maintain those boys 10 years from now and have them in their late teens to early 20s still interested in this sport and still getting recognition for what they’re doing.”
James said he is impressed with Cobequid athletes and their willingness to learn and improve under his guidance, “which makes it easy to coach.”
“It took a couple of years for my Vancouver boys to warm up, and here they warmed up right away. They are willing to try anything. Trust is a big part of coaching and they were willing to trust me right away.”
James had a strong tie to the Truro area even before taking the coaching reins for the Spartans, as his wife Jenna (nee Blaauwendraat) is from Princeport. While visiting her family during the past couple of years, James became acquainted with the Spartans program.
Mits Ikeda, who co-founded the Cobequid Spartans more than 30 years ago, also recommended the local club to James. Ikeda currently coaches in Abbotsford, B.C.
“He highly recommended the club, not only for the people in the community, but also for the club’s longevity,” James said. “And he recommended it as far as the community goes, that the town of Truro is very respectful of sport in general and they have a big political push in health start for kids and they’re pushing health programs for kids.”
James said the transition from a big city to a small town has been seamless, adding that being in this part of the country allows him the opportunity pursue his passion of coaching and helping young athletes get started down the road of life.
“It’s something that I wanted to do. I’ve always had a desire to do this, but living (out West), it’s harder to make ends meet. It’s a little easier here, as far as quality of life.
“I want to coach, I want to develop young athletes. If nothing else they get good time management as far as extra curricular activities … and as they transition into life it just becomes a daily routine that the physical fitness aspect of life will continue.”
Who: Colin James
What: Cobequid Spartans men’s head coach.
Experience: 17 years as a gymnastics coach, including the past eight as a full-time coach in Surrey, B.C.
Awards: Three-time Gymnastics B.C. provincial coach of the year.
Resides in: Old Barns
Married to: Jenna (nee Blaauwendraat)
His impression of Truro and area: “It’s great. There’s more a sense of community here, more willingness to help people out. When people are in need here, there seems to be more people willing to lend a helping hand.”