Coach of the Year

Updated Monday August 24, 2015 by Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association .


The Bruce Russell Memorial Coaches Award has been established by the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association (WMBA) to recognize Bruce Russell's outstanding commitment to his role as a basketball coach and enthusiasm for the philosophy of the league. 
Bruce passed away as a result of cancer in April 2001 after his second season of coaching in the WMBA. Bruce had a tremendous passion for the game of basketball. He played the game for over 20 years, first at a high school level for St. Pauls and Dakota and annually in the Greater Winnipeg Men's basketball League. A very good player in his own right, Bruce's true calling was coaching.


Bruce took up coaching duties in the 1999 WMBA season for the 8&9 Coed Waverley Heights Warriors, a team his daughter played on. Bruce's patience, experience and attention to practice drills helped the team learn the fundamentals of the game. His commitment to fair play made sure all the kids participated and had a positive experience playing in the WMBA. Although losing more games than winning that season, it was evident the kids had fun, and the coach, when he said, 'I love the feeling you get when you see the kids play'.

Bruce was diagnosed with cancer before the winter 2000 season registration began. Unbeknownst to the returning players from last year, they filled out their registration forms requesting to be on Bruce's team. Despite personal adversity, he undertook the challenge and responsibility to coach the team. Throughout the season he never wavered in that commitment. He encouraged his players to do their personal best. There were words of praise for their accomplishments and constructive advice when needed. Throughout that season Bruce always had a smile on his face and positive attitude, even after enduring a long day of chemotherapy treatments. His strength and determination to see his players enjoy a fun and successful season was evident at each practice and game.

Bruce's health deteriorated near the end of that season and he was hospitalized. The team played their first playoff game with Bruce absent from the bench. In an amazing strength of character and inspiration, Bruce left his hospital bed and sat quietly in the crowd to watch his team play in their first Black Division playoff game. The results of that game were incidental compared with the excited look on the kids' faces when they spotted him in the crowd. The kids' admiration for Bruce was never more apparent than that day. He gave all that he could for as long as he could and no one, especially his basketball team, will ever forget their coach Bruce Russell.


Past Recipients

2015 - Stan Hall - Corydon Community Centre

2014 - Peter Robertson- Stovel, Riverview Community Centre

2013 - Ray Green, Roblin Park Community Centre

2012 - Chris Utz, Portage La Prairie - Rising Stars

2011 - Jon Giesbrecht, Thunder - Rising Stars

2010 - Melaine Reyes, Garden City Community Centre

2009 - Michael Catalano, Gateway Community Centre

2008 - Fred Mighty, East St. Paul Community Centre

2007- Gord Friesen, River Heights Community Centre

2006 -  Bryan Gray, Fort Garry/South West District

2005 - Dwight MacNeil, Clifton Community Centre

2004 - Ron Hutsal, Kirkfield Westwood Community Centre

2003 - Greg Braun, Lindenwoods Community Centre

2002 - Joe Kutryk, Maples Community Centre



  1. Each Club or District Convenor must authorize the nomination of each coach in order for the application to be received.
  2. Coach must have their NCCP Level 1 Technical Certification.
  3. Community Club / District and Nominee must be in good standing with WMBA.
  4. Each nomination must be seconded by another person (non-relative to the nominator).
  5. The nomination must come from a non-relative.
  6. Selection committee may request additional information.
  7. Nominators are requested to inform candidates that their names have been submitted.

The successful nominee will be chosen based on the following criteria

A Coach who…

  • Demonstrates an outstanding commitment to Fair Play.
  • Shows exemplary commitment to the team.
  • Serves as a model for other coaches to emulate.
  • Promotes the WMBA and basketball in general.
  • Demonstrates respect for fellow coaches, parents, players and officials.
  • Demonstrates concern for players outside of the game.

Selection Committee

Three members of the WMBA Board of Directors will form the Selection Committee.

Points will be awarded for each of the above criteria. A blind judging format will be followed (names of coach and club removed).


A plaque recognizing the achievements of the successful nominee will be presented. A larger plaque will also be presented and kept at the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre. Presentation to be made at the WMBA’s Annual General Meeting in June. Members of the Russell family will participate in the presentation.

If you wish to nominate a candidate for the Bruce Russell Memorial WMBA Coach of the Year Award, please complete the following Nomination Form and submit it to the WMBA office at the above address on or before the application deadline. A club or Rising Stars team is welcome to submit as many nominations as it sees fit and anyone (except a nominee’s relative) may nominate a coach. All nominations must be seconded by another person (except a nominee’s relative) in order to be accepted.