Doug Plumb, a one-time Little Dribbler, is all grown up.
Soccer was the first sport for the 24-year-old Pitt Meadows guard, in his final year of eligibility playing for the UBC Thunderbirds men's basketball team.
He was four when he took up "the beautiful game." His dad Norm had played semi-pro soccer, so the younger Plumb was always trying to emulate him.
By about the fourth grade Plumb had started playing basketball in veteran Pitt Meadows Marauders coach Rich Goulet's Little Dribblers program (which became Junior Grizzlies, then the Steve Nash league).
That's when Plumb decided to switch from the soccer pitch to the hard court.
His passion for basketball took him from Pitt Meadows Secondary, where he attended until Grade 9, to Hastings, Minn. He moved to the North Star State with his dad in pursuit of a Div. 1 scholarship.
Plumb finished high school in Hastings before signing on with Minnesota State, a NCAA Div. 2 school.
He played a year there but decided it wasn't for him.
Plumb returned to B.C. to play at what was then known as the University College of the Fraser Valley (now University of the Fraser Valley) under head coach Barnaby Craddock, who is now bench boss with the Alberta Golden Bears.
In 2007/08, Plumb appeared in 11 league games and led the Cascades in conference scoring 17.9 points per game.
But over the summer between his first and second year at UCFV, Plumb suffered a quadriceps tear, an injury that was misdiagnosed for about four months.
"I figured I was done playing then because I couldn't jump without pain, let alone play," Plumb recalled.
Plumb had surgery and after sitting out a year, got in touch with Thunderbirds head coach Kevin Hanson.
"I told him I was interested in coming to UBC," Plumb said.
First he had to sit out another year and upgrade his academics at Douglas College.
Fast forward to this year, and Plumb is wrapping up his third season with UBC, and fifth and final year of eligibility.
Plumb said his time at UBC has been memorable.
"UBC is one of the only schools in Canada that offers a student-athlete the whole university experience," he said. "There is a great sense of community amongst not only other athletic teams but also alumni, faculty members and boosters. I've made friendships I'll carry with me for the rest of my life and I have nothing but good things to say about my time here."
Plumb's head coach has made his time at UBC all the more enjoyable.
"Coach Hanson has really helped me to understand what it means to be a professional," Plumb said. "He demands excellence day in day out, and it has made me not only a more disciplined athlete but also a better teammate and I think just a more well-rounded person."
Plumb believes his best is yet to come with the Thunderbirds, a dominant force in Canada West men's hoops this season.
Despite losing twice to Victoria during the final weekend of regular season play, the T-Birds finished 18-4 and secured home court in the playoffs.
"Obviously [it's] been a great season to this point but all of this means nothing unless we get it done in playoffs," Plumb said.
Success has continued into the post-season.
After knocking off Alberta in a hard-fought three-game series, the T-Birds are hosting the conference's Final Four this weekend.
UBC defeated Alberta 96-67 last Sunday (Feb. 24) to take the series and move on to the Final Four, which tips off this Friday (March 1) at 7 p.m., when the host T-Birds take on the fourth-seeded team. The bronze medal game goes at 6 p.m. on Saturday (March 2) followed by the gold medal game at 8 p.m.
The Thunderbirds are looking to qualify for, and then make some noise at, the CIS Men's Basketball Final 8 Tournament at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
The teams that advance to the Canada West title game will also qualify for nationals, and there is one additional at-large berth up for grabs nationally.
Plumb would like nothing more than to win a CIS national title in his final year with UBC.
"It's been a crazy journey, this whole basketball thing, and with this being my final year I can't think of any other way to go out than to be cutting down the nets in Ottawa in a month's time," he said.
The journey Plumb speaks of has helped him grow exponentially as both a person and a player, he said.
"I've gone from a boy to a man so to speak. I came here at a time in my life when I was kind of lost and lacking direction, I leave as someone who has seen what hard work and perseverance can do and I feel like I'm just scratching the surface," he said.
Pre-UBC, Plumb took a few bumps, both physically and to his confidence.
"I played in the NCAA out of high school, on a top-five Division 2 team in the nation, so it was a rude awakening," he said. "We always say here that success breeds complacency and coming out of high school I was a walking example of this. You leave high school as the 'star' but that means nothing once you get here. Everyone was the star."
Post-UBC, Plumb plans on hopping across the pond to play professionally in Europe.
"Once the season is done that will be my focus, with finding an agent and all of that but right now I'm just trying to enjoy the ride," he said. "If I play how I can and the team plays the way we can, all of that will take care of itself so I'm just really trying to stay in the moment and enjoy every last day of this."