John Desormeaux launches Sudbury Jam Varsity program
by Randy Pascal
John Desormeaux is synonymous with basketball in Sudbury, most notably in working with competitive female youth teams over the better part of the
past three decades or more.
But as well known as he is for this connection, Desormeaux has also been at the forefront of several self-initiated ventures in the sport, passionate about his ability
to help develop talent.
And though he now refers to himself as the "old man in the mix", Desormeaux is ready to launch a new venture with the introduction of the Sudbury Jam
Varsity program, beginning this fall.
"In the past 34 years, I have been the innovator of basketball in this community," he said. "I've seen the landscape change, and it's still changing,
especially on the girls side. I try and look at what is currently being offered to the kids, what the opportunities are for them."
"I am going to offer another opportunity to girls in the province." Though the team will be based out of Sudbury, the concept is to allow players to train
with mentor coaches, in their own hometowns, coming together for a total of ten weekends during the period from December through to provincials in May.
That schedule will include six weekend training sessions, three tournaments as well as participation in the Basketball Ontario provincials.
Desormeaux insists that the new venture is not aimed to match up directly opposite the current offerings that sees grade 12 female basketball talent in
Ontario competing in either the JUEL (Junior Elite of Ontario) or the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association which recently granted entry
to the Lo-Ellen Park Prep crew.
"I'm not competing with anybody, I just do my own thing," he said. "I always have. The main objective is to give girls who are talented and don't
have a place to play in their last year have an opportunity to play at a high level." In fact, Desormeaux notes that there are some clear cut compelling
reasons to believe that a Jam Varsity program enjoy success.
"My networking reaches out throughout Ontario," he stated. "I've got a lot of friends in a lot of places, a lot of coaches who know me very well. I
haven't even started it yet and I've got four girls signed with me right now (two from Huntsville and one each from Newmarket and Sault Ste Marie).
"The recipe that I offer is a mold for them, it fits for them," Desormeaux continued. "This is filling a void for grade 12 girls who don't want to leave
their hometowns. The Varsity Jam program does not take away from other school sports and lets athletes enjoy their final year competing in various school
"I will help each individual athlete establish personal training in their hometown, being involved with competitive training versus the boys. I will be
following up on a regular basis." And at a time when their is much debate in amateur sporting circles about the business models being promoted to grow on
the unrealistic athletic dreams of young prospects and parents alike (in all sports), Desormeaux insists his motivation is far more benevolent.
"What drives me is the kids," he said. "There is zero money in this for me, it's going to cost me money. I'm a passionate guy and it's something that I
like to do." While some might question the long-term viability of this venture, Desormeaux is nothing if not deeply convinced of the prosperity of his
"There are hundreds of girls in Ontario that this fits," he said. "I will build on this and three years from now, we'll have thirty girls." He points to
very successful working relationships, over his career, with the likes of Samantha Cooper, Cassandra Carpenter and Val Midcovsky as proof of
his ability to help athletes on to the next level.
Confident, yet realistic. "I can't guarantee anoybody a spot on a varsity team. But I can guarantee them that they will have an opportunity to be seen."
And despite the lineup of choices that currently exist, John Desormeaux sees a need to fill one more void, just as he has always tried to do.