Q&A with Tyler Harding: The Man Behind the OBL
Over the past five years as Ontario Basketball’s Manager of League Development Tyler Harding has been instrumental in the implementation of the league format we know now as OBL. It seems hard to remember a time when OBA competition was just a series of tournaments leading up to the Ontario Cup when the current league format guarantees a definite amount of games and helps seeding and competition levels. From the OBL came the OBLX top division for the elite teams, the OBL All-Star games at HoopDome, and the Welcome Toronto Tournament with OVO and the Raptors. He will be bringing his knowledge and skills to Ontario Ringette starting in February. We talked about his time with OBA and bring you this Q&A to read,
OBA: This is either the easiest or the hardest question. What has been the best part of working at OBA?
TH: I would have to say that the best part of working at OBA was the relationships that I was able to build over the years. Relationships with the Ontario Basketball staff, with coaches, with convenors that were instrumental in the success of the OBL, and with the athletes and witnessing their progression and accomplishments over the past 8 seasons. These relationships and friendships are what I will take away most from my time at OBA.
OBA: What drew you to Ontario Basketball in the first place?
TH: Definitely the passion and love that I have for the game, being able to work in amateur sport and give back to these young athletes and provide programing and opportunities to love and experience the game like I did. The first connection I made with OBA was at a TIDP camp held in Barrie where I was working as the liaison to OBA for Georgian College, I asked one of the OBA staff members how I could get evolved and the rest is history.
OBA: Is there a specific moment you enjoyed the most?
TH: As I’ve had some time to reflect and look back on my journey with OBA, I think the moment that stands out to me was a U14 boys and girls OBLX championship weekend held at Humber College. This event was a Jr. NBA Global Championships qualifier and to me represented everything our team had been working towards over the previous four OBL seasons. We were providing meaningful and eventful competition at the highest level. It was a moment, and validated all of the blood, sweat and tears that went into providing this competition stream for all teams in the province.
OBA: I picture you jogging court to court at HoopDome getting all the teams set up and also making all the coaches laugh with every small interaction. What do you think the mark you left on the organization looks like?
TH: At the end of the day the legacy left will be the Ontario Basketball League, but I hope the mark that was left will be with the athletes who will look back on their OBA careers and remember an OBL weekend where they had a key rebound, lead the team in assists, or scored their first basket. Providing an outlet and opportunity for young athletes in the province to play basketball was always the goal at the beginning of each OBL season.
OBA: The OBL was a huge undertaking and then getting it to a point where it’s more than doubled in size to over 900 teams and you almost can’t find gym space for them all. Is there still opportunity for that to grow and what else is OBA’s biggest opportunity?
TH: There is always room to grow, the hope was to someday have enough teams in the province to compete regionally within the OBL. There is still a way to go but over the past 5 years running the OBL we have seen nothing but exponential growth within the league and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
OBA: How will your experiences at OBA help those in the Ontario Ringette community?
TH: The knowledge and experiences I’ve gained at OBA have definitely shaped who I am as a sport professional. Working with key stakeholders whether in basketball or ringette will not change, as we work together my goal is to grow the sport, and that is the plan heading into this new and exciting opportunity.