Bill Coulthard was a star basketball player who represented Assumption College, the Detroit Institute of Technology, the Windsor Patricks Seniors, and the Windsor Grads Seniors, among other teams, in the 1940s and ’50s. He was probably the first player to employ a one-handed “long shot” in Windsor-Detroit basketball. Coulthard won the Canadian Senior “A” Championship as a player-coach with the Tilsonburg Livingstons.
Coulthard was born on December 29, 1923, in Buffalo, New York but moved to Windsor in time to attend Patterson Collegiate between ’36 and ’41.
Coulthard enrolled at Patterson at 12 years of age, meaning he was eligible to play Junior basketball in Grade 12. In 1940-41, he was a member of Patterson’s 16-0 Senior WSSA and WOSSA Championship team. Coulthard’s squad defeated Assumption 44-28 and 40-19 in a two-game total-points series to win WSSA. He was named First-Team All-City alongside Jack Shuttleworth, Hank Biasatti (both Patterson), Jerry Kennedy (Assumption), and Gerald Duck (Kennedy).
After graduation, Coulthard attended the Detroit Institute of Technology between 1942 and ’44. In Detroit, Coulthard developed an unconventional one-handed shot from distance, which differentiated him from the two-handed shooters of the day. In the ’43-44 season, Coulthard led his team in scoring and earned a place on the Detroit Free Press All-State Team.
Following his college seasons, Coulthard turned out for the Windsor Patricks Seniors, coached at the time by “Tatters” Girard. In 1942, the Patricks defeated Assumption College in the City Series to advance to the Ontario playoffs. The team defeated the Clinton RCAF and Hamilton Zion Ramblers to win the provincial championship, then Morrisberg to take the Eastern Canadian title. Windsor finally fell to the Victoria RCAF in a best-of-five Canadian finals series, losing 58-48, 63-50, and 31-22. Coulthard was the team’s top scorer throughout the playoffs.
In 1944, Coulthard played for the Windsor Grads Seniors, which lost in the second round of the Ontario playoffs to Merritton, the eventual Canadian Champions. That Merritton team included eventual Major League Baseball star Sal Maglie.
Coulthard enrolled at Assumption College in time for the 1944-45 season and again linked back up with Coach Girard to play for the Windsor Dayus Seniors outside of school. In ’45-46, Coulthard, Freddie Thomas, and their Assumption teammates defeated the Toronto Simpsons Grads 58-41 and 45-28 to capture the Ontario title. They went on to defeated Montreal YMHA in Montreal 45-33 and 53-37 to earn a place in the Eastern Canadian Finals. Coulthard scored 20 points in the two-game series. Next, Assumption defeated Halifax HMCS Stadacona 64-27 and 62-31 in a best-of-three series to set up a Canadian Finals series with Victoria Dominoes. Windsor was to host. Unfortunately, Coulthard was stricken with strep throat and unable to play. Victoria won the series in three straight games.
Coulthard lined up for Assumption again in 1946-47. His team defeated the Windsor Grads in the City Series and beat the Toronto Tip-Tops and St Catherines Mic Macs to take the Ontario title. Assumption went on to win the Eastern Canadian title series, contested in Windsor that year, by winning two straight games over Montreal YMHA (58-49 and 75-49). Assumption again reached the Canadian Finals. The team travelled to Western Canada to face the Vancouver Meralomas in a best-of-five series. Although Coulthard put up 78 points — including 23 and 22 in the final two contests – Windsor fell in five games 49-76, 51-47, 52-63, 69-60, and 51-59.
Between 1947 and ’52, Coulthard represented the Tilsonburg Livingstons as a player-coach. Tilsonburg reached four Ontario Finals in five years under Coulthard. At the Intermediate “B” level, the team lost to Toronto Parkdale in 1948 but defeated Toronto Broadview Y in ’49 to capture the title. The following season, Tilsonburg moved up to Senior “A” but lost to Hamilton in the provincial championship game. In 1952, the Livingstons went one better and captured the Canadian Senior “A” Championship by defeating the Winnipeg Varsity Grads. Coulthard’s team also overcame the University of Western Ontario, the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union Champions, in a best-of-five Olympic qualifier (79-65, 75-69, 82-83, 87-75).
Coulthard passed away on December 18, 2005.