Thursday, 14 February 2008

More Tributes to Eddie P.

*** UPDATED FRIDAY MORNING *** Neate Sager's tribute to Eddie on the CIS Blog Pomykala turns out the lights in Lennoxville

Pomykala era comes to a close: 24-year coaching career comes to an end
By Mike Hickey; Sherbrooke Record

The Eddie Pomykala era at Bishop’s University is coming to an end- at least on the basketball court. The Lennoxville-based university announced today that the longest serving head basketball coach in Quebec, and one of the longest in North America, was changing positions within the school. Effective at the end of the 2007-08 season Pomykala will leave the school’s athletic department and accept a position with the BU liaison department where he will be part of a team recruiting prospective high school students. The move has been in the works since November when the school administrators first approached Pomykala about changing jobs and was finalized in the last few weeks. While some observers make believe the move was made in part of the team’s poor record this year, the reality is that the offer was made when the team was playing well. And after 24 years at the helm of the Bishop’s Gaiters programme, it was time for Pomykala to accept new challenges and broaden his own horizons. “I feel fortunate that I have a fantastic opportunity and am very lucky that I have been given an opportunity to do something very positive for the school,” Pomykala said. His final season at the helm of the Gaiters has not been a dream season. The 2007-08 campaign began with great promise – the team had a winning pre-season record against very strong competition and opened the Quebec University Basketball League with two impressive wins. But just as the team was finding its identity the Gaiters had a bye week followed by a six week lay-off. A scheduled Christmas tournament was cancelled at the last minute and Bishop’s went 41 days without a game. Despite an extended losing streak, the Gaiters, and their head coach, never stopped working hard and approached each contest with a desire to win. Pomykala has done a lot of positive things for the school during his tenure at the school. He resurrected the basketball programme in the mid-1980s by recruiting some outstanding CEGEP players including Pierre Tibblin, David King and Jeff Harris, the nucleus of a team that captured the 1988-89 Quebec championship. To get a perspective on the Pomykala influence one needs only to look at the stands during any Bishop’s game. Prior to his arrival, attendance at Bishop’s game was among the smallest in the league and students ventured out of the dorms on a winter night to watch the team played. Since the 1988-89 Quebec championship team, the Mitchell Gymnasium has provided one of the best playing venues in the country and has been packed with students of all ages as well as a large contigent of local fans. Win or lose, Bishop’s has led the Quebec conference in attendance for over a decade.
The team’s finest hours came a few years later when they won three consecutive league titles and a memorable National Championship in 1998 when Bishop’s became the smallest Canadian Interuniversity Sport school to ever win a national championship.
The team returned to the Halifax the following year but was knocked out in the semi-final round, finishing fourth in the country. Not only did the Gaiters acquit themselves on the basketball court, their fans gained national recognition as they traveled to Halifax for the three-year run t support their team. “The thing that has meant the most to me over the last 24 years are the players,’ Pomykala said in an exclusive interview yesterday. “Number two will be the National Championship but the players from all 24 years are what in my mind the most.” They were to be no more national or league championships after 1999 but the Gaiters continued to be a competitive team, due largely because of Pomykala’s preparation and desire to win. Critics can question his coaching methods and tactics but never his intensity or loyalty to Bishop’s. He literally bled Purple and Silver and brought credibility to the school not only by wining basketball games but assuming a leadership role in the development of basketball in not only the townships but also in the province of Quebec. The numbers speak for themselves, in nearly three decades with the Gaiters, Pomykala has established himself as one of the most respected head coaches in the country, having helped the Gaiters to emerge as one of the most consistently competitive programs in Canada. Selected as the 1998 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Coach of the Year, he has helped lead the Gaiters to the post-season on 18 occasions and his teams have captured four Quebec Conference titles. And now it comes down to three more games including his final appearance at Mitchell Gymnasium tonight. One more opportunity for a victory before the hometown fans in a season that has not had a Hollywood ending. “It has been such a tough semester and I would like the players, who have worked so hard, to finish on a positive note,” Pomykala said.
The Gaiters will finish the 2007-08 season with a losing record but Pomykala exits as a winner, a person who made a positive difference at the university and the community.

News Release from Bishop's Sports Information

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