In 1987, Tim Frick was set on retiring. By then, he’d coached teams to national championships, coached two Canadian icons in Terry Fox and Rick Hansen to otherworldly achievements and fame, and he was ready for a break. Based solely on these accomplishments, Frick had arguably compiled a hall of fame career already. But then in 1990 he was asked to coach the Canadian women’s national wheelchair basketball team and what started out as a tentative one-year commitment turned into a 19-year dynasty the likes of which remains unprecedented in Canadian sport. It puts Frick’s career over the top and warrants him consideration among the greatest Canadian coaches of all time, any sport any era.

Born in Aldershot, England and raised in northern Ontario and Parksville, like many he played every sport available, but uniquely coached his first team—five-year-old soccer players—when just 12 years old himself. At his first practice, while demonstrating a drill he ran into a goalpost and knocked himself out. Knowing he needed help, he read every coaching biography in Parksville’s library. No magic formula for coaching success existed, but he did discover his career coaching philosophy: focus on the growth and development of athletes to help people reach their potential in life. Success often then took care of itself.

Through high school and university, Frick was always coaching teams, even while still playing himself, such as five years of UBC volleyball, helping the Thunderbirds to the 1975-76 CIAU national championship. Respected volleyball coaches John Campbell and Vic Lindal became huge influences.

In 1977, Frick met a young wheelchair athlete named Rick Hansen, who convinced him to coach his wheelchair volleyball team. From then on, Frick was “all in” coaching wheelchair sports of all kinds. He helped Hansen train for international wheelchair races and served as a Canadian coach at the 1980 and 1984 Paralympics. He coached a young Terry Fox in track and wheelchair volleyball and when Terry began training for his Marathon of Hope, Frick was there jogging beside him. When Hansen dreamed up the idea of wheeling around the world, Frick helped him train, plan, and served on the Man in Motion World Tour team for much of the 40,000km two-year journey.

From 1990-2009, Frick coached the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team to three consecutive Paralympic gold medal wins (1992, 1996, 2000) and a bronze medal (2004). After winning bronze at the 1990 world championships, he coached Canada’s women to four-straight world golds (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006). With Marni Abbott, Jennifer Krempien, and Chantal Benoit leading the way, this included an unprecedented 15-year-long 46-game winning streak from 1990-2004 where the women’s national team didn’t lose a single world tournament, world championship, or Paralympic game—one of the most dominant runs by any team in any international sport in the world.

In 2010, the Canadian Paralympic Committee created the Tim Frick Paralympic Coach Excellence Award in his honour.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.