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London highschool basketball coaching legend Dan Colfax wins one last tournament title | CBC News



Dan Colfax had no idea what was in store for him when he arrived at Westminster Secondary School’s gymnasium on a Friday night for the Wildcat Classic, the school’s annual senior boys basketball tournament. 

“I thought I was just going to watch a game,” he told CBC Radio One’s London Morning host Andrew Brown. “Then, all of a sudden Osman Omar, he started his little speech about me.” 

The “little speech” was actually a pretty big deal. It was a stirring tribute by Omar to a coach who had helped shape him into a man when he was only a boy. It was the first among many tributes that night to Colfax, who from 1966 onward helped shape generations of boys at Westminster, Banting, Beal and Fanshawe College. 

On Friday night, dozens of those boys turned men filled the bleachers to pay tribute to the former coach who helped them keep their heads in victory and defeat, and taught them to have faith in each other and themselves through hundreds of three-point plays, free throws and full court presses. 

In his honour, they renamed Westminter’s annual Wildcat Classic, the Colfax Classic because when it comes to high school basketball in London, Colfax is a legend — but you’d never hear it from him.

From 1966 onward Dan Colfax helped shape generations of boys at Westminster, Banting, Beal and Fanshawe College as a basketball coach. (Westminster 50th SS Reunion/Facebook)

As affable as he is self-effacing, Omar said Colfax rarely lost his temper and always expected the best from his players. 

“Dan was never a yeller, but Dan pulled the best out of you,” he said. “He held you to it. It was about discipline and commitment.”

“Having someone push you beyond what you think you’re capable of is a challenge but it’s worth it.”

Dan was never a yeller, but Dan pulled the best out of you.– Former high school basketball player Osman Omar

Omar said Colfax also helped teach him the value of dignity both on and off the court, something he’s carried with him into the world of business. 

“‘Encourage those around you, always work with others and don’t show your frustrations with body language or verbal abuse,'” Omar recounted, from opening one of the very first emails he received from Colfax.

“He was really teaching me how to communicate with people.”

a group photo in a gym
Westminster Secondary School paid tribute to longtime coach Dan Colfax (centre right) by naming its annual senior boys basketball tournament after him. (Westminster 50th SS Reunion/Facebook)

Now in his early 80s, Colfax still carries his quiet dignity. It’s probably why didn’t even suspect anyone would be paying tribute his decades of hard work that Friday night.

In fact, he didn’t even recognize most the faces from his past sitting in the bleachers until it was too late. 

“You should have seen the number of people who were there that I had coached,” he said, noting it wasn’t until Omar started addressing the assembled crowd that he understood why he was there.

 “I was completely surprised and being a very emotional guy I fought back the tears too,” he said. “It made me feel terrific.”

London Morning10:16Celebrating a beloved basketball coach

Dan Colfax coached high school basketball in London starting in 1966. He’s a legend in the region and that’s why his former players paid tribute to him. Coach Dan Colfax and one of his former players Osman Omar told London Morning how they honoured the long-time coach.

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