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MLSE’s Spencer Gibson Influences The Future Of Basketball

Spencer Gibson | Basketball Development Coordinator | MLSE

Any time I have the opportunity to enhance a kid’s interaction or experience with sport is the best. That’s why we do what we do.

Spencer Gibson

Basketball Development Coordinator

MLSE

× The interview with Spencer Gibson was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as Basketball Development Coordinator at MLSE. What does a typical day look like for you?

The great part about this job is that every single day is different. We run several events during the year so depending on which month we are working in and what events are overlapping, that will dictate what our days look like.

Everything from coordinating venue logistics, staffing needs, creative elements, partner deliverables, liaising with internal and external stakeholders along with developing stories that can be told with each event (pre and post), there is never a dull moment. 

For example, in July we have our Raptors Basketball Academy (summer camp), the planning for that starts 8-10 months in advance. While we are starting to work on that project, we will also be wrapping up the Welcome Toronto Tournament (youth tournament) and be about halfway through our Raptors Clinic Series (half day sessions).

One of the programs that you help run is called “Playground Pros”, where the goal is to get kids playing and learning through sports. Could you tell us a little bit about your role in this and what this type of work means to you.

For sure – I was involved in helping develop the basketball portion of the curriculum. The program is designed to give kids an opportunity to try Basketball, Football, Soccer and Hockey in a fun and safe environment while teaching through a series of small games.

Any time I have the opportunity to enhance a kid’s interaction or experience with sport is the best. That’s why we do what we do.

You get to share your love of basketball and create long lasting impressions on the community through your role. What have been some of the most rewarding parts of your job and a time that sticks out to you where you really feel like you’ve impacted others?

I always loved being on-court and working directly with the kids. We always say “To be a good basketball player, you’ve gotta be a good listener.”

We repeat that over and over during the sessions and by the time the sessions are over, the kids have it locked in. The best part is when you see these kids weeks or months later and they say “Hey Coach! To be a good basketball player, you’ve gotta be a good listener!”

That’s how you know we are having a positive impact. By working with us, they understand that listening is an important skill that applies on and off the court.  

In my current role, I’m rarely on-court anymore. I spend most of my time behind a computer, creating excel sheets and building the events.

However, I also have the responsibility of overseeing our part-time community coaching staff that deliver our on-court experience. That is the most rewarding part of my job. Our coaches are energetic, enthusiastic, passionate – everything you would want as representatives of our programming and organization.

You have worked for NBA Canada, Ontario Basketball and now for the Raptors. What have been some of the main similarities you’ve noticed across the basketball industry? List 3 of the most valuable skills one must have to work in professional basketball.

  1. People Skills
  2. You cross paths and run into the same people over and over again. You don’t need everyone to love you or be your #1 fan but you do need everyone to view you in a positive light. Manage your relationships like they are currency because you never know who might be having a conversation or making a decision behind closed doors that can directly impact you.

  3. Communication Skills
  4. You speak to your boss differently than how you speak to your colleagues. You speak to your customers differently than you speak to your vendors. You cannot speak to everyone the same way. Know the differences – it’s important.  

  5. Problem Solving Skills
  6. There are times where you are just supposed to know what to do – but you don’t. So then what do you do? You figure it out.

What advice would you give to prospective sport management professionals looking to work in sport at a similar level to yourself but just starting off in their career?

  • It takes time.
  • Be patient. You don’t just finish school and land in the job of your dreams with the cool brand or organization that you feel represents you the best. You must put in a ton of time gaining relevant industry experience, growing your network, and putting as many tools in your toolbox as possible so that when an opportunity presents itself, you’re not scrambling to meet the criteria on the job posting – you’ve already got it and the people who need to know who you are, already do.

  • Be a sponge.
  • Soak up as much information as possible from the people doing the jobs you want. If you ask thoughtful questions, you’ll find people are happy to answer them and often give you more information than you bargained for. Don’t cut them off in an effort to prove that you know what they are talking about. Let them finish their thoughts because you never know – they might say something that completely unlocks a whole new dimension for you and that snowballs into something so much better.

  • Do what you enjoy and do it well.
  • People will notice the care and passion you bring to your work and if you do it well, they will want you on their team.

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

Spencer Gibson, Basketball Development Coordinator at MLSE, provides a safe and fun environment for kids to participate in sport. His love for basketball allows him to develop programs that will have a real impact. Just one example of this is Playground Pros. You can see that Spencer is extremely passionate about giving kids the chance to learn new skills through sport, that will translate on the court, but also in their personal lives. Sport programs don’t only teach technical skills, but also help children develop their social skills too! Spencer takes pride in being able to influence the kids who participate. Spencer is a great leader who is impacting the future of basketball!

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