It was more than fitting that when Paul Larmand was the guest speaker at the 2009 Penetang-Midland Basketball Association annual banquet, he emphasized the merits of hard work, setting goals, and believing in yourself.
It was also hard to visualize, as the former basketball star addressed the young players, that not so many years ago, not a lot of people-perhaps only himself-believed he could succeed in the sport he loved. But succeed he did, on a local, provncial, national and international level.
“Paul’s greatest asset was not his natural shooting touch or ability to score but the simple fact that he was so coachable,” said longtime friend and former coach Andrew MacMenemey in nominating Paul to the Midland Sports Hall of Fame. “His willingness to learn, combined with his passion for the game, resulted in rapid improvement.”
Born in Victoria Harbour, Paul attended St.Theresa’s High School in Midland, graduating in 1999. In addition to high-school basketball, he played on the local Midland Magic Ontario Basketball Association teams. His talents were obvious enough that he was selected for the Ontario provincial team which won the national title in 1999.
National titles were about to become a recurring theme for Paul, who chose to go to Ottawa’s Carleton University where he would come under the tutelage of renowned coach Dave Smart. Paul’s “coachability,” his outgoing personality and dedication made him not only a star for the Ravens, but a favourite of their fans.
In 2003, Carleton won the Canadian lnteruniversity Sport (CIS) national men’s basketball championship and Paul was named to the Canada East all-star team.
The following year, they capped off a CIS-record string of 50 consecutive victories (regular season and playoffs) with a thrilling 63-59 win over St. Francis Xavier to successfully defend their national title. Paul sealed the win by nailing two free throws with just 10 seconds left in the game. He
would end his final year as a first-team all-Canadian and with the Jack Vogan Graduating Male Athlete of the Year award.
In July of that year, Carleton travelled to Taiwan to compete against an international field in the Jones Cup. “Paul Larmand just can’t miss,” started one newspaper story. “The Carleton University forward made 14 of 22 shots, including four for six from three-point range, and scored a tournament-high 32 points in the convincing win over Japan.”
Turnlng pro after university, Paul won a league championship with the Ballarat Miners of the South East Australian Basketball League, where he was the team’s most valuable player, and was runner-up for the league MVP award. He returned to Canada for a stint with the American Basketball Association’s Quebec Kebekwa team before making the Canadian national men’s team coached by Leo Rautins that competed ‘n the 2007 Pan Am Games in Brazil.
“His highlight for me;’ says MacMenemey,”is not the awards, the game-winning shots or championships but the fact that he returned to Midland and coached young players, sharing his talent and experience with our future basketball stars.”