An after-school basketball program is at risk of shutting down if more volunteers are not found soon.
The Steve Nash Youth Basketball program offers local kids from kindergarten to grade 7 the chance to learn basketball skills in a fun, supportive environment. The program is in need of a coach for the Kindergarten to grade 3 program, while the grade 4-7 program has now found a new coach for the season.
Thirteen-year-old Craig Hale has been in the Steve Nash group for five years now. He said he has gotten a lot better at basketball since signing up.
“It’s just fun to go to, and you get better at basketball,” he said. “Being part of the hoops program – you know most of the basic skills of basketball: how to do layups, shoot properly, which makes you a lot better at it.”
Craig told the Pioneer he likes being involved with the group, even though he now can play on the basketball team at J.A. Laird too.
“It’s nice to be able to play basketball with your friends and have fun, and learn some good basketball skills too,” he said.
Kim Turgeon is one of the program coordinators. She said it has been a great asset to the community and she would like to see it continue.
“It’s really great to get the younger kids involved in basketball,” said Ms. Turgeon. “It gives them an opportunity to try it at a really young age.”
Jane Fleet agrees wholeheartedly. She put all three of her children in the program and recommends it, citing what an asset it is to have in Invermere.
“The thing I really like about the concept of it is – it’s the dead of winter, it’s cold, and sometimes you might get a bit stir crazy, and this is a great sport that’s accessible to everybody,” Ms. Fleet said.
Team sports like basketball start within the school system in grade 6, so this program gives younger kids a chance to try out the sport and gain some skills years before school-based basketball begins.
Kim Daniele was a coach for the program over the last few years, but is currently on maternity leave this year.
“It’s basic skills, a good opportunity for kids to get their feet wet in the sport of basketball, and it’s great for kids to meet other kids from different schools,” said Ms. Daniele.
She coached the older group (grade 4-7), and said the change she saw in the kids through the two-month program was astounding.
“The progress is substantial … It really helped improve their skills,” she said.
Ms. Daniele’s focus was always to teach the kids some skills, but more than that, to teach the value of fair play and building a supportive atmosphere.
To other people considering signing up to coach, Ms. Daniele said, “If you know the basic skills, you’ll be just fine. Just keep the kids busy and try new things and, if they don’t work … you try something different the next week. It’s not a scary thing that’s for sure. It’s fun, and it’s pretty rewarding.”
For the kindergarten to grade 3 program last year alone, more than 30 kids were interested in signing up.
The Steve Nash youth basketball program includes program materials for coaches to follow. Ms. Turgeon said there are often a few older students who come help out as well. The commitment for a volunteer for the K-3 program would be one hour, once a week, from the second week of January through to spring break.
To volunteer, or sign your own children up for the program, call Kim Turgeon at 250-341-3770.