Written by Devon Platana
After spending nearly 50 years being involved in the Carleton community, Paul Armstrong is being inducted into the Ravens Hall of Fame due to his contributions as an athlete and a builder.
“It’s such a great honour for people to think that your contribution to being a Carleton Raven is being recognized and will be for posterity, so it’s a great feeling,” says Armstrong.
“I was organizer for many of them [past Hall of Fame Celebrations] because I worked for Athletics at the time, and some of my former teammates and players have gone in. So, it’s certainly something you’d think, ‘Wow, it would be cool if I could get in someday.’”
Armstrong began his journey as a Raven in 1973 as a forward for the men’s basketball team, becoming a three-time OUAA All-Star before coaching both the women’s and men’s basketball between 1981 and 1999, earning the OUA Basketball Coach of the Year award twice.
With nearly 50 years of memories to look back on, Armstrong says two things stand out to him this day. “As a varsity athlete, you make great friends and you work towards common goals,” says Armstrong, adding that he continues to see some of them over 40 years later.
The second memory that stands out is how proud he is of helping turn Carleton’s basketball program around. “As a player, we started rebuilding the program and I would say the rebuild was a real success with two great coaches in Greg Poole and Pat O’Brien,” says Armstrong. “By the end we were certainly recognized as a Top-10 program.”
Armstrong also has fond memories from his coaching and administrative days, especially when it concerns the alumni.
“When I was coach, we started a Carleton University Ravens Basketball Alumni Association,” says Armstrong. “We ran high school tournaments, we started a 3-on-3 tournament, and a coaches clinic.”
“Having our alumni come back to help coach and organize events like that, and many of them were my teammates, just showed how much of a connection there was for our alumni to Carleton basketball.”
Armstrong was nominated by Scott Bennett, who got to know the coach when he brought his sons to watch Ravens basketball games in the 1980s.
“Paul, more than most people in his position, went out of his way to get to know the fans and people who are involved in the Carleton community,” says Bennett.
Bennett nominated Armstrong not only for his personal success and accolades, but for leaving an impact on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams that can still be seen to this day.
“Taffe Charles, who was a player for a number of years at Carleton, ultimately became a coach for the women’s team and then the men’s team, but he was involved under Paul’s tutelage,” says Bennett. “Even Dave Smart was an assistant coach towards the end of Paul’s time (as Head Coach of the Men’s Basketball Team).”
“He [Armstrong] didn’t coach a lot of national championship teams, but unless he maintained the community interest and involvement in the sport and Carleton’s team, there wouldn’t have been anything for the later people (coaches) to build on.”