The growth in the participation and popularity of basketball in the Midland-Penetanguishene
area can be directly attributed to the tireless dedication and determination of George Vadeboncoeur. He worked with Dennis Hern and Sheila Vipond to bring the Midland Mystics (competitive girls) and the Midland Magic (competitive boys) together to form the Penetang-Midland Basketball Association. He and his wife Catherine then started a minuscule house league with just over 30 boys and girls in the late 1990s to provide youngsters the opportunity to play organized basketball and to develop players for the competitive programs. Within five years, the league grew to more than 200 youngsters of all ages.
One of the keys to the growth was access to facilities; first in Penetanguishene with access to Canadian Martyrs Elementary School and the gymnasium at the Mental Health Centre, and then in Midland with the opening of the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre. The second key was the attraction of volunteers to help coach, referee and time keep. George fostered the growth of the PMBA to the point where it became a reliable feeder system for elementary and high-school teams as well as for our local Ontario Basketball Association club teams, the Mystics and Magic. During this time, George was not only organizing and running the PMBA, but he was refereeing for the Barrie and District Association of Basketball Officials and coaching the Mystics and the Penetanguishene Secondary School team. All this while he was the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Penetanguishene and, later, for Wasaga Beach.
While George’s lasting legacy to the sport in this area will be the PMBA, an organization devoted to developing basketball in the North Simcoe area, his personal milestone was guiding the Major Bantam (under 14) Mystics to divisional gold at the 2008 OBA provincial championships. Trailing by two with just seconds to go, the Mystics hit a three-pointer to win the gold medal by a single point. “I’ve been coaching about 25 years,” he said at the time, “and this is the highlight.”
“The satisfaction for me watching members of the PMBA is the skill development,” he told a local reporter later. “I enjoy watching them and remember when they first started out …seeing them win championships is icing on the cake”, No doubt, George Vadeboncoeur is “Mr. Basketball”!