There's no quit in Benoite

John
John Browne
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It's meant putting the rest of his life on hold, but this 32-year-old's love for basketball is more than enough to keep him happy while playing in the minor pros

The game is over, but it takes Peter Benoite a little time before he joins his teammates in the dressing room..

First, he poses for a picture with a young female fan. Then, there are some autographs to sign. And after a media interview, he's off the court and into the seats at Halifax Metro Centre, where he spends several minutes talking to Memorial University women's basketball players who have cheered him on throughout the American Basketball Association (ABA) contest between his Halifax Rainmen and the Maywood Buzz.

Halifax Rainmen captain and Little Barasway native Peter Benoite (left) is averaging nearly seven points a game through 21 contests with the ABA expansion team. Photo by Nick Pearce/Halifax Rainmen

Halifax - The game is over, but it takes Peter Benoite a little time before he joins his teammates in the dressing room..

First, he poses for a picture with a young female fan. Then, there are some autographs to sign. And after a media interview, he's off the court and into the seats at Halifax Metro Centre, where he spends several minutes talking to Memorial University women's basketball players who have cheered him on throughout the American Basketball Association (ABA) contest between his Halifax Rainmen and the Maywood Buzz.

After earning plaudits during his career at Memorial University in Atlantic universities basketball, Benoite is garnering similar respect and admiration around in the minor professional basketball circuit and as the Halifax captain,

A six-foot-two, 190-pound guard, Benoite was one of the first two players signed by the Rainmen after the team's initial ABA tryout camp.

Anyone who knows the former Memorial Sea-Hawk star isn't surprised he continues to have success in a game he can't seem to give up.

Benoite finished with 17 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists in 29 minutes as the Rainmen beat the Buzz - who are based out of a Los Angeles suburb - 124-95 Thursday night. This despite the fact he started slowly, scoring just two points in 12-and-a-half minutes of work in the first half.

"I think I caught Dennie's disease," Benoite said with a laugh, referring to teammate Dennie Oliver, who had struggled early with his shooting the previous night.

It was the Rainmen's second straight victory, improving their record to 10-19 in their first ABA season. While the new franchise has struggled at times, including a recent eight-game losing steak, Benoite, after a slow start, has played a steady, dependable game.

He played semi-pro basketball in Germany before accepting a job with the provincial government in St. John's two years ago, but is living in Halifax because of the obvious convenience. He says the calibre of ball in the ABA is on par with European leagues.

After struggling early with the Rainmen, he has earned the captaincy, as well as the admiration of his teammates and head coach Rick Lewis.

"He's been a phenomenal player," said the personable Lewis. "He's great in the locker room. Great off the court. He's a leader and that's why he's our captain.

"He had a rough time at the beginning. He needed to settle down and play at this level. However, things changed abruptly after a December team meeting."

That's when Lewis told the rest of the Rainmen that Benoite was going to start, adding, "We need to support him."

After that, says Lewis, it was a complete turnaround.

Benoite admits he got off to a slow start with the Rainmen.

"I didn't play well at the start of the season," he said.

" I picked up a few injuries here and there, but I was able to work myself back into the lineup and the coach put a lot of faith in me."

The faith was warranted, said Lewis.

"He's earned his spot," insisted the coach. "He was second on the team in every drill and every time trial. He was always a leader, pushing everyone else to achieve.

"You have to admire his hard work."

For Benoite, it's all about the journey and the challenge.

"To this point, I've never been totally satisfied with how far I've gone. I've always felt I should go a little bit further and this has helped fill that void a little bit. The experience has been great. I'm happy with my decision to come here," he said.

Whenever Benoite's basketball career finishes, there will be plenty of options in the private or public sectors for the native of Little Barasway, Placentia Bay. He graduated with a degree in mathematics and statistics and was an academic all-Canadian in each of his five seasons at Memorial.

But that's not his focus, at least not yet.

Benoite, who was awarded the James Bayer Memorial Scholarship in 1997 and was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship the following year, feels the need to continue playing a game that gives him joy and keeps the fitness fanatic in tune.

Still, at 32, he's realistic.

"I didn't work hard all last summer just to give up basketball. If the body holds up, I won't rule out playing another few years. I still want to play."

Some would say he still needs to play. Yet, he realizes the inevitable decision to give up a game he obviously loves is not that far away.

"There comes a time when you have to look at other aspects of your life, but right now I still want to play," he said. "

"I love to play. I love the competition and I love to stay in shape and this (ABA) forces you to stay in shape, for sure."

Nevertheless, he adds, "If it happens to be the last year, then I'd be pretty satisfied."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com




Facts/Quotes

Peter Benoite quick facts
Named honourary chair for 2008 AUS men's basketball Final 6 championship this weekend in Halifax
AUS MVP and first-team all-Canadian in 1996-97
In 98 regular season-games with the Memorial Sea-Hawks, averaged 14.6 points per-game
1,429 career points, second in school's history
Averaging 6.8 ppg with Rainmen
Nicknames include "The Mayor" and "Pops"
On Memorial and coaching
Peter Benoite, who was an assistant coach briefly with the Sea-Hawks men's team, still has a soft spot for his alma mater.
MUN finished a dismal 0-20 in the Atlantic Universities Sport play this season, but Benoite believes better things are ahead for the beleaguered program.
"They've got a young team this season. They were obviously outmatched in a lot of games, but there's some talent there. In three years time, if they put in the hard work over the summer months and put in the commitment that's needed, then anything can happen.
"They showed promise in a couple of games this season. There is potential there, for sure."
Asked if he'd ever consider coaching at the university level when his playing days are over, Benoite grinned and replied: "I'm too busy playing."

Organizations: American Basketball Association, Halifax Metro Centre, Atlantic Universities Sport

Geographic location: Halifax, Los Angeles, Germany St. John's Little Barasway Placentia Bay

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Recent comments

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I played many games against Peter growing up, and I must say that he is the most respectable, mild mannered person I have ever met. I was a moron, and I used to try to frustrate him when he played by being overly physical, and verbally insulting. Not once did I see this guy lose his composure. He wasn't cocky, and would never put it in your face that he was better than you. Karl English could learn a thing or 2 from him, that guy is a d!ck. I would like to apologize for giving Peter a hard time, and wish him all the best in the future. He has worked hard to get where he is today and I know the future will only bring good things.

    P.S. Peter, I still can't dribble with my left

  • A
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    This is the guy Memorial should be pursuing aggressively to replace Aughey as coach. He has achieved respect and success wherever he has played. He certainly has the smarts to be coach. His drive and commitment to the game is legendary. This a guy who used to miss the bus after school while at Laval HS in Placentia in order to stay for team practices and would then walk the 15 km down the Cape Shore hwy to his home.
    He would undoubtedly command the respect of the current team and top local HS recruits would certainly be more likely to choose MUN instead of heading off to play at mainland universities.

  • shack23
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    I've known Peter since his playing days at Laval High School and he is one of the most professional and personable person that I have ever met. Doesn't complain, just works harder.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Atta' boy Petey baby!

  • Michelle
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    I remember my father talking about this great oarsmen he was coaching in preparation for the St. John's Regetta, I didn't realize who it was until years later when I met Peter at a work. Peter's humility, work ethic, and sincere nature makes him a perfect ambassador for Newfoundland. I am honored and privledged to know him and wish him nothing but good things for the future.
    Still miss seeing you in the link!!!!!!!

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    I played many games against Peter growing up, and I must say that he is the most respectable, mild mannered person I have ever met. I was a moron, and I used to try to frustrate him when he played by being overly physical, and verbally insulting. Not once did I see this guy lose his composure. He wasn't cocky, and would never put it in your face that he was better than you. Karl English could learn a thing or 2 from him, that guy is a d!ck. I would like to apologize for giving Peter a hard time, and wish him all the best in the future. He has worked hard to get where he is today and I know the future will only bring good things.

    P.S. Peter, I still can't dribble with my left

  • A
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    This is the guy Memorial should be pursuing aggressively to replace Aughey as coach. He has achieved respect and success wherever he has played. He certainly has the smarts to be coach. His drive and commitment to the game is legendary. This a guy who used to miss the bus after school while at Laval HS in Placentia in order to stay for team practices and would then walk the 15 km down the Cape Shore hwy to his home.
    He would undoubtedly command the respect of the current team and top local HS recruits would certainly be more likely to choose MUN instead of heading off to play at mainland universities.

  • shack23
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    I've known Peter since his playing days at Laval High School and he is one of the most professional and personable person that I have ever met. Doesn't complain, just works harder.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Atta' boy Petey baby!

  • Michelle
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    I remember my father talking about this great oarsmen he was coaching in preparation for the St. John's Regetta, I didn't realize who it was until years later when I met Peter at a work. Peter's humility, work ethic, and sincere nature makes him a perfect ambassador for Newfoundland. I am honored and privledged to know him and wish him nothing but good things for the future.
    Still miss seeing you in the link!!!!!!!