Doug Partridge was head coach for a successful Memorial University women’s basketball program for over two decades, guiding the Sea-Hawks to seven Atlantic championships, earning conference coach of the year honours eight times and being named the Canadian university women’s basketball coach of the year in 2003.
It’s a résumé that undoubtedly worked in Partridge’s favour as he was being considered for the coaching staff of the National Basketball League of Canada’s St. John’s Edge. But it might have been Partridge’s other basketball-related work that was the clincher in his being named as a coaching consultant for the pro hoops team.
Doug Plumb, recently named the Edge’s new head coach, was the lead assistant to Jeff Dunlap last season as St. John’s embarked in the NBL Canada. Part of Plumb’s duties were to review video of the team’s home games, and in doing so, he got to hear the commentary of Partridge, who provided the colour alongside play-by-play man Steve Power for online streams of Edge contests at Mile One Centre.
“I’d be watching the games at home, winding and rewinding,” said Plumb, “and when I heard Doug, I was really impressed.
“ t’s very rare to find someone on the commentary side, especially at this level, who is as knowledgeable as Doug is. … to be able to watch a team for the first time and being able to determine what worked or what didn’t on a particular play.
“So yes, that played role (in his hiring).”
For his part, Partridge knew his work with Power was being well-received, but that was from fans. He wasn’t thinking about it leading him back into coaching.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t stay if Steve Power didn’t turn to me every so often and say ‘It’s going to happen. You’re going to be there (down on the court) next year.’ And I’d said ‘Steve, I’ll be right here with you next season.’”
But Power’s prognostication was proven out.
“It was very gratifying when people came up like they did and said ‘You make the game more enjoyable’ or that I was helping them getting a better understanding of what was happening in games,” said Partridge.
“That was my motivation when I was broadcasting. I was only thinking about helping others appreciate the game.”
But as much as he enjoyed working the online broadcasts, he is delighted to be able to get back into coaching.
“I love calling games, but what I enjoy most is to be on the floor working with players. That’s my wheelhouse,” said Partridge, whose run as head coach with the Lady Hawks ended in 2015.
Partridge will be financially compensated by the Edge — it is not a volunteer position.
“But I’m not doing it to get paid. Getting my foot back into coaching, working with higher-level people. That’s more of the interest for me in this.”
Partridge will be busy basketball-wise next season. He was also recently named the technical director for the Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association.
He needed to get the approval of the NLBA board before taking the Edge job as well, but believes there will be a real advantage to his being involved in the two organizations.
“There are some real good things — good links is how I put it — that could happen between the Edge and the NLBA. Hopefully, they (the Edge) could help promote grass roots and elite programs for the NLBA and do player visits, things like that.”
“And hopefully, having me involved in both will help that along.”
Besides Plumb and Partridge, the Edge coaching staff will also include Steve Marcus, back as associate head coach, and Stu Julius who has three decades of experience coaching at the Canadian collegiate level and NBL Canada.
“With Doug, we have someone who is local, who is immersed in the community and brings a wealth of basketball experience, just like Stu Julius does,’ said Plumb.
“What’s more, Doug and Stu are friends from a long way back. So that relationship has already been established.
“As a young coaching staff, Steve and I still have a lot to learn and are always open to opinions in the room.
“Doug and Stu have so much knowledge that I’m looking forward to picking their brains.”
Partridge is looking forward to offering up those opinions to Plumb, even if he knows he’ll be miss offering them while wearing a headset.
“I’m sure there will be a little twinge during the first home games thinking how nice it would be to be up there working with Steve again,” said Partridge. “But I know that he’ll know I’m where I believe I really belong.”