Since the first time he touched a basketball at 12 years old, James DaPoe fell in love with the game.
“I wandered into the gym at basketball tryouts at Winona Middle School. I was one of the tallest guys there,” DePoe said from his apartment via Skype in London, England. “It’s funny because I haven’t grown since I was that age.”
The passion of this Humber grad propelled him to heights he’d never thought possible. Now he is the manager of the U19 basketball team that captured the Basketball World Cup this past summer in Cairo, Egypt.
“The feeling was indescribable. It’s such an honor to be part of a group representing your country at that particular level,” said DePoe. “I’ve thought a lot about the sacrifices I’ve made, the friends birthday’s and family functions I’ve missed and how in the end this was all worth it.”
He said the overall attitude of the team heading in was one of incredible swagger and confidence.
“We really believed we could win. I think [head coach] Roy Rana and the coaching staff really stressed that from the beginning. We finished 5th at the last World Cup. We realized that’s not good enough, we have to get to these medal games,” said Depoe.
Danilo Djuricic, forward for the team who plays at Harvard University, said James was one of the most animated people at camp and he help the team have a lot of fun.
“James is dependable,” said Djuricic. “He is very disciplined at his job. He was one of the most passionate people who truly believed we were able to accomplish what we did from the very start of our journey. He kept us in line but made sure we were able to bond and have fun at the same time as well.”
Part of that fun included a trip to the pyramids for building team unity.
“We lost a group game to Spain,” said DePoe “But we didn’t practice the next day. We went to enjoyed ourselves. The guys bought into the team and it built from there.”
All their hard work culminating in a world championship, James said he couldn’t celebrate right away.
“It’s not the NBA and confetti,” said DePoe with a laugh. “I had to get the guys in line, to follow proper protocol. Line up in order of number to receive our medals. Then I had to get the guys to bed for the flight the next day.”
It’s all just a part of the job.