You can start and stop the discussion about Jerry Hemmings and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame with one three-digit number: 734. That is 734 career wins as coach of the Brandon University Bobcats men's basketball team, making him the winningest coach in Canadian university basketball history. He is the Bob Knight, the Dean Smith, the John Wooden of Canadian college basketball. Born in Mount Airy, N.C., Hemmings won a state high school title, played pro ball in Europe for a couple of years and then came to Canada to play for three seasons - two with Lakehead University and one with Brandon University Bobcats, where he was named a first-team GPAC all-star.
But it was when he turned to coaching at BU in 1974 that Hemmings really made a name for himself. Besides his 734 career wins, he guided the Bobcats to 21 national tournament appearances and four Canadian championships (1987-89 and 1996).
As Hemmings was always dedicated to putting the best Bobcat team as possible on the floor, he also continually sought personal improvement. He took a one-year sabbatical to coach at Tulane University in 1983-84, took another one-year leave in 1989-90, and spent the 1993-94 season as assistant coach of the C a n a d i a n national team that played in the world championships in Toronto. There he had two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash on the roster. He returned to coach the Bobcats from 1994-03, taking his final sabbatical in 2003.
The 59-year-old Hemmings, now Coach Emeritus at BU, is a professor in the physical education department, said the Hall of Fame honour "is a reflection of all the gifted players and coaches who played and worked with me, and all the support I had at BU over the years."
"Anytime you start a career, you don't look at it as a chance to be honoured in this fashion," he said. "And to be inducted alongside athletes like John Carson, Bill Fairbairn and Dan Halldorson it's a real honour. I'm tremendously touched."
Jerry Hemmings is also a member of the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame.