Over 25 years ago, Mano took on the challenge of creating a summer job for himself. It was 1991 and at the age of 15 he decided to start his very own basketball camp in his parents’ backyard. With 8 campers in attendance the first week, playing on one hoop, the Watsa Basketball Camp had officially begun.
Through the support of his basketball coaches and the local community, the camps blossomed. By the time Mano graduated high school, nearly 200 local youth were attending four weeks of camps offered each summer in his backyard.
While attending the University of Waterloo, the camps continued to expand and Mano began to accept requests to speak at schools and summer camps. As his university career wrapped up, Mano officially launched More Than Hoops.
Looking for a way to use basketball as a platform to further inspire students, Mano launched Power To Choose. With the goal of combining basketball, entertainment and interaction with inspirational messages, Mano brought together a team of elite-level athletes and conducted their first assembly on January 21, 2000. The program was an instant success and before the school year had finished, the team had performed for 25 local schools. Power To Choose became a highly sought-after motivational program that performed at over 400 schools and inspired over 250,000 students across the country.
In 2001, More Than Hoops also began overnight camps for players across Ontario. The Watsa Basketball Camps at Hidden Acres soared from 22 campers the first year to 150 players by the third year.
In 2002, Mano started a program for point guards called the Point Guard Academy. It was his dream to create a program similar to Dick DeVenzio’s Point Guard College, which he had been so impacted by as a player. The Point Guard Academy started with 36 players in the first summer and over five years the program grew to involve over 250 players across Canada.
In 2006, things came full circle for Mano as Point Guard Academy merged with Point Guard College and Mano took on the role of President of PGC.
PGC Basketball offers over 100 camps in 40 different locations across North America. For more information on PGC Basketball, visit www.pgcbasketball.com.
IN THE NEWS
Check out some of the earliest articles written on the Watsa Basketball Camp and the Power To Choose team!
HALL OF FAME
The Watsa Basketball Camp’s Hall of Fame was established in 2001, the summer of the camp’s 10th Anniversary. The Hall of Fame exists in order to recognize outstanding efforts by individuals who have contributed to the success of the Watsa Basketball Camp.
2001 INDUCTEE - JACK GENTRY
Jack, known as Coach Gentry to campers, was a coach at the St. Clair College Basketball Camp when Mano attended it from 1987-1993. As Mano’s favourite coach at the camp, Mano immediately recruited Coach Gentry to come and spend a week coaching at the Watsa Basketball Camp. Jack, who lives in Detroit, Michigan during the year, agreed to come and has not missed a year since. His loud and demanding coaching style, combined with his fun-loving and caring personality has made him a magnet over the years for campers and coaches alike. Congratulations and thank you Coach Gentry for your years of dedicated service to the Watsa Basketball Camp!
2002 INDUCTEE - BUD LEONARD
Bud has been involved with the Watsa Basketball Camp since 1992. Bud coached Mano at Harrow High School and created the Excalibur Basketball Club to provide Mano and other young players with the opportunity to further develop their skills. In support of Mano’s efforts with the camp, Bud volunteered to provide a motivational message to the young campers. That single visit developed into a long-lasting relationship with the camp, as Coach Leonard became a regular guest coach at the camp, dropping by week after week and year after year to encourage and share his expertise with young players. Congratulations and thank you Coach Leonard for all you have done over the years!
2003 INDUCTEE - BERNIE BULAT
Bernie played an integral role in the birth of the Watsa Basketball Camp. After training Mano in the game of basketball every morning before elementary school for 3 years, he encouraged Mano to attend his first ever basketball camp. He also gave Mano his first coaching opportunity at Harrow Senior School with the junior basketball team in 1992. He then helped to encourage Mano to get the Watsa Basketball Camp off the ground and assisted in promoting it with his students that year and for years to come. Bernie became a regular visit at the camps and paved the way for the camp’s future success. Congratulations and thank you Mr.B. on behalf of everyone at the Watsa Basketball Camp!
2004 INDUCTEE - REID INNES
Reid is the first-ever former Watsa Basketball Camp camper to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Reid was a 6-year camper before becoming moving into the coaching ranks. Reid quickly became a camp favourite among campers with his enthusiasm and playfulness, combined with his knowledge of the game. Reid also experienced tremendous personal success as a basketball player at St. Clair College, where he became the captain of the men’s basketball team. At the time of his induction, Reid had coached at 25 weeks of camp, impacting over 1200 campers along the way. Congratulations and thank you Reid for the contribution you have made to the Watsa Basketball Camp!