West Coast Basketball Coach, Teacher, and Sheep Farmer Dave Wahl is Living His Fullest Life

Dave always knew what he wanted to be. “In grade seven, if you had asked me what real career I would have had, besides an NBA basketball player, I would have said that I would have wanted to be a school teacher.” Dave explained.

To many, Dave got a dream job teaching in Toronto. But after a few years of living a city life and commuting, he and his wife, Vanessa, wanted something different. The two moved to the West Coast of Canada where they eventually made their home on Haida Gwaii.

On idyllic pastures for sheep to graze, Dave starts each morning by going outside, feeding the sheep and taking in the sunrise off the Hecate Strait. It’s a ritual he speaks of fondly. “There are perfect days where maybe I get up in the morning and let the sheep free range and have that whole experience, and then maybe I go coach basketball or maybe I have a really interesting teaching day, and sometimes it just feels like a really full life.”

Dave admits he didn’t know much about the culture of coastal basketball before moving to the West Coast, but learned that there was a role he could play in that community. Dave has coached the Skidegate Saints, a seniors’ all-male basketball team, for the past seven years. And before that, he had coached in Bella Bella. The Saints basketball team rank among the best in British Columbia and are a great source of pride in the Skidegate community. The All-Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert is a major highlight of the year. Of the last sevens years that Dave has coached, the Saints have won the tournament an impressive six times. “To coach in the All-Native Tournament, I liken it to coaching high-level college basketball in the States where there is that energy and that feeling,” Dave explained. 

In collaboration with Saints team members, he started the World Indigenous Basketball Challenge, which brings together Indigenous teams from across the world to compete.

One of his favourite parts about his work is how he gets to be a part of people’s lives in the classroom, on the court and even sheep farming. “It is really interesting when you see kids that you teach in other aspects of their lives on Haida Gwaii and the different roles that they play…. They are strong members of their family, they are athletes, they are artists.”

He’s quick to credit his happiness and success to the great role models he has had throughout his life, and the people that surround him today. A role model himself, Dave described his favorite part of the job: “I like the fact that I get to hang out with these incredible young people every day and kind of play a little role in their journey.”

Creative Team

Joseph Crawford

Director of Photography / Camera Operator / Editor

Joesph is driven to tell stories from original perspectives, connecting viewers with wild places. An experienced underwater videographer, Joseph has worked in Northern BC’s most remote regions, capturing surf culture, and free diving on the West Coast of Haida Gwaii.

Allison Smith

Director / Writer / Producer

Allison is inspired to tell compelling stories that connect audiences with nature, community, and the diversity of the human spirit. Her writing can been seen in Dote Magazine, Northword Magazine, and Calgary is Awesome. Most recently, Allison has been working with Above/Below, which will be exhibited at the Smithers Art Gallery in 2019.

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