By John Elambo
A lot of work had to be done to make the Scarborough Basketball Association a reality.
In 1996, it came to life.
Current SBA President Sam Moncada, alongside Mervin Busby, wanted to start the SBA to replace the old Scarborough parks and recreation basketball program.
“There was the Scarborough Blues boys team run by Bob Clement, The Scarborough Road Runners boys and girls team run by Sydney and Yvonne Bokul and the Galloway Lancers boys’ and girls’ teams run by Craig Walker and me,” Busby said.
“We thought it was a good program. The girls were called the Lancers and the boys called Blues. The Roadrunners were associated members of the club and they wanted to keep their own name.
“However, all three clubs supported each other. We tried to get a fourth group in — the Scarborough Hurricanes — but they were not interested even though we all were friends and coached each other’s players.”
Busby said his fondest memory of the SBA is watching the kids learn the game of basketball, acquire new skills, and the joy and happiness they express when they finally get it right like scoring a basket.
“Teaching kids how to play the game and have fun doing it is the best part of coaching.”
His family was also a big part of the SBA.
“My four children have all been involved as players, scorekeepers and minor officials,” he said. “My wife has played the role of team manager, videographer, chauffeur, and chaperone.”
Busby’s time with the Galloway Lancers’ girls’ basketball team allowed two of his members to succeed at other levels.
“Margaret Masuka and Vanette Graham, I recruited both of them to play on my Seneca College women’s basketball team,” he said. “They both had excellent careers, and both were OCAA All-stars. Craig and I now have the privilege of coaching their daughters.”
During his time as the Lancers’ head coach, he was able to host a provincial wide Ontario Basketball Association (OBA) tournament and then did it for a few years with the SBA.
“The SBA got out of doing the OBA tournaments due to the cost associated with gym rentals but maintained a tournament for elementary schools,” he said. “The tournament was run by Peter Jones and it was a great tournament. Unfortunately, it also became too expensive to run out of Hoop Dome, so it was going to be shelved.
“I asked the SBA if I could run it on a smaller scale out of the middle schools in Scarborough with my teacher coach colleagues. With these teachers donating their gyms, the tournament was able to be run. We ran it like the NCAA March madness, we had a series of four-to-six team tournaments out of four middle school gyms in Scarborough. Due to Covid, the tournament has been on hold for a while.”
What drew Busby to coach girls the game of basketball was the lack of coaches to run girls’ teams.
“The young girls in our Kington Rd & Galloway Rd. Community Center wanted to play so I coached them as part of my summer job,” he said. “They wanted to keep playing so I coached them while attending teacher’s college. They were very athletic and dedicated but did not know the game well or developed the needed skill set to be competitive on the OBA rep stage, so we got smoked in every tournament we played in that year.”
During the following summer though they practiced every day — Monday to Friday — for a couple of hours and the following year they dominated those same teams that had beat them the previous year.
“From that point we never looked back,” said Busby, who has coached girls’ basketball for over 25 years now.
He also has his girls’ basketball team help out the community, saying it is important that youth learn to give back at an early age.
“They need to set an example for the younger children to see,” he said. “Also, it is a way for them to say thank you to all the people who have directly or indirectly helped them.”
“I believe a show of gratitude and appreciation for and to others is an important value to learn and demonstrate.”
Busby did play basketball and volleyball in his youth. He played at Sir Wilfrid Laurier CI and also played his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he was an academic all-conference and freshman all-star team in both volleyball and basketball.
“I also transferred to Cornell University where I was redshirted. Played volleyball for three years,” he said. “I was a carded member of the Canadian national program from age 16-22. I also played my final year with the University of Toronto (U of T) while attending teachers’ college.”
Coaching basketball isn’t the only thing Busby has on his resume, he also has coached Borden ball, volleyball , track and field, cricket , soccer, floor hockey and badminton.
Busby, who was selected to the Original Toronto Raptors Ambassador Community Coaches Team, said his favourite thing about basketball is the team component of the game.
“Watching a group of five people transform into a unit of one,” he said. “The athleticism of the players, the skill set, and mindset required to be successful.”