In Transition: Joel Friesen
Joel Friesen is one of five Canadians on the London Lightning, part of the National Basketball League. Friesen, Abbotsford raised, was an integral component to the back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018 with the London Lightning, as well as the NBL Championship he won his rookie season with the Halifax Hurricanes. Joel is known nationally for being one of the hardest workers and “one of the best perimeter defenders in the league” (London Press). Friesen, a 2008 graduate from Yale Secondary who won the AAA BC Championships and was named BC MVP is excited to be recognized as one of the top players in Canada. Thank you Joel for taking the time to speak with Abbotsford Basketball about your reflections.
What made you choose to invest so much of your life in the sport of basketball?
Basketball has always kept me on the right path from a young age. It was my motivation to keep my grades up in school so that I could play at the next level. To have true success, you have to invest serious time in the appropriate areas of your game. I’ve been blessed to play at the level I do now, and am continuing to invest my time to improve my game everyday. Whether it’s a specific skill on the court, or reflecting on game tape.
What measures did you take to develop yourself as a player?
My game has always been based off of defensive effort and pure competitiveness. I had to focus that same effort into skill work at a young age to help evolve my game offensively. I would say improvements started to get noticed between grade 11 and 12 when I made my first provincial team. Also being in the gym every – single – morning before school. Every single day after school. And if I wasn’t in the gym, I was outside working on my handle or jumper.
In what ways did playing for UFV and in the CIS prepare you for professional basketball?
Adam and Al Friesen, and Barnaby Craddock are great coaches with different styles. That helped me develop into the player I am today. The FIBA playing style at the college level definitely helped me to prep to play overseas and in the NBL Canada.
What type of mindset have you developed in preparation for playing professional basketball?
You have to embrace whats gotten you to the professional level, and what makes you special as player. At the same time you always want to continue to get better and push yourself to expand your game and versatility.
“…being in the gym every – single – morning before school. Every single day after school. And if I wasn’t in the gym, I was outside working on my handle or jumper.” – Joel Friesen on when he started noticing signifiant improvements in his game. It’s about consistently putting in the work!
What has been your biggest key to success as a player?
Be a great teammate, and play with effort and positive energy. Those are 3 controllable concepts that will help increase your consistency in the court. You obviously need to still work on fundamentals and your game, but intangibles are such a huge part of being a high level pro.
What would you recommend to the youth of Abbotsford who have similar aspirations?
Never give up. There’s going to be hills and valleys during the process of becoming great. If you keep your eye on where you want to be and are doing whats necessary to get there. No one can stop you. I was told I wouldn’t go pro because I didn’t play in the NCAA. I was told I may never play again after an ACL injury. I was told that making certain moves in my career would hurt me. Now I’ve made history and won championships at every level in Canada. Having big dreams, and staying resilient has been a huge part of that success.
We hope to see more Abbotsford players on a list of invitees to the Team Canada tryout:
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