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Paul Thomas was the coach of the University of Windsor Basketball Lancers from 1969-1992. During that time the Lancers won several OUAA Championships but never won the ‘big one’ – the CIAU Championship – although they came close. Doc received ‘Coach of the Year’ honors twice.
Prior to coming to Windsor, where he resides, Doc had an outstanding athletic background. As a high school athlete, Thomas played at the Niagara Falls Collegiate Vocational Institute under legendary coach Jimmy Rose (who later was elected to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame). Doc played on several championship teams, and set a scoring record of 59 points – in the days when games were usually played in the 20 points range. During his high school years ,Doc played all sports, and played professional baseball in the Chicago Cubs farm system.
As a university athlete, Doc played at the University of Western Ontario for the outstanding John Metras – another Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame coach. In Doc’s 4 years there, (1945-50) UWO won 4 CIAU championships and Doc was 4-time first team All-CIAU. He spent his summers playing in the Catskill Mountains ‘Borscht Belt’ where his teammates included All-Americans and NBA players.
After university, Doc played for the Toronto Tri-Bells – Senior Men’s Eastern Champs: then in 1952, the Tillsonburg Livingstons, where he was playing-coach and they won the National Championship: then back to Toronto where, as playing-coach they won 2 more Canadian Championships. The 1952 Tillsonburg team, as Canadian Champions, was named to represent Canada in the Helsinki Olympics and Doc was the Olympic Coach at 24 years of age – the youngest Olympic coach ever. Doc then took his first University coaching job at the U. of Saskatchewan; was hired to coach at a brand new school – San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge): California Lutheran College: and finally, the U. of Windsor.
Since coming to Windsor, Doc has coached Canada’s team at the 1974 World University Games in Moscow, and he took Canada’s ‘B’ Team on a tour of China in 1972. Prior to the 1976 Olympics the Swedish National Team came to Windsor to train, and later the Czechoslovakia Team came to Windsor.
Doc has gained an international reputation in coaching. He has participated in clinics, camps, and symposiums in various parts of the world – China, Sweden, Poland, Norway, USA, and others. He has written extensively about basketball, and participated in the development of Canada’s Coaching Certification Program, and he was President of the National Association of Basketball Coaches of Canada.
He has been elected to several halls of fame –
As an individual – Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame; Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame; U. of Western Ontario Hall of Fame; U of Windsor Hall of Fame; Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame; the OUAA Hall of Fame; the OUAA West Officials’ Hall of Fame; Tillsonburg Sports Hall of Fame. As a team member – Tillsonburg, Niagara Falls (4 teams), U of Windsor (3 teams), U. of Western Ontario.
He was the President of the Windsor/Essex County Senior Sports Organization (WECSSO), and during his time in office, the membership grew to over 1600; the slo-pitch league became a 3 tier league with 6 to 8 teams in each tier at various times; and several sports and activities were developed. WECSSO is unique in that it oversees so many sports for both men and women. Commonly, senior sports groups cater to one sport – we apparently, are the only one that caters to all sports and both sexes, and continually strives for growth. Doc was greatly responsible for this reputation.