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Jay Triano BA’82 PDP’87

Jay Triano is an Outstanding Alumni Award winner, star basketball player, and Olympic basketball coach. Now, as interim head coach of the Toronto Raptors, he is the first Canadian coach in the NBA.

Is your current job the fulfillment of a dream?

It certainly is an achievement that I would dream about, but it’s like other goals that I have set for myself: I reset them after reaching them and strive for something bigger and better. I would like to be a winning coach and help an organization win an NBA championship.

Did you ever expect you would end up as an NBA coach?

Not until the last couple of years. I always wanted to coach my country in the Olympics, and when I did that and we went 5–2 I felt like I could help an NBA team in some capacity. After coaching as an assistant for seven years, I knew I was prepared, but you never know when or if you will get the opportunity.

Did your SFU experience have an influence on how you got to where you are now?

Absolutely! From my playing days and the coaching I received to help me be a player I was forming my basketball thoughts and tendencies. I learned from the coaches I had there, and SFU was my first coaching job. I had players that were great people. They made it fun to be a coach. I can’t imagine what I would be doing had it been a bad experience.

What is your favourite SFU memory as a student?

It was university! There were way too many. As a student I could give you a list of about 10 great things that happened every week. The common denominator was the people. There was a bond between all the athletes. We got along so well and supported each other. Some of my best friends were football players and swimmers.

What is your favourite SFU memory as a coach?

Helping the athletes who were playing for me. I wanted them to achieve their university degrees, to challenge themselves to be the best that they could be in sport, and to walk away with friendships and be better people because of their experiences.

Was there anyone at SFU who particularly influenced you?

I would have to say Stan Stewardson, my first coach. He was tough and taught me how to be tough. He challenged me every day. Terry Fox was a friend of mine as well. He taught me how to dream and that even when chasing dreams other people think are impossible you can be successful. So maybe a combination of Terry showing me that it’s okay to dream, and Stan teaching me that it doesn’t matter what anybody says and that if you are mentally tough enough you can achieve those dreams.

Do you have any advice for young athletes?

If you can, take what I said in the last answer and apply it. The address I gave the other day to our team had to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Barack Obama inauguration. It’s okay to have dreams, but successful people act on them and make them real.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have none right now. For coaches the summer is our only spare time.

What music do you listen to?

Sarah McLachlan and Bruce Springsteen.

What are you reading right now?

Another scouting report on our next opponent!

Photography: Getty Images/NBAE