Fun­da­men­tal learn­ing

Pro­gram teach­ing bas­ket­ball to young ath­letes

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS nmercer@cb­n­com­

Dave Pen­ney walks be­tween a group of 10 pri­mary grade ath­letes. It’s April 30 at the gym­na­sium in All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary in North River, and Pen­ney is giv­ing his young charges in­struc­tions on some of the finer points of throw­ing a proper bounce pass.

Paired off in twos, each group has one bas­ket­ball be­tween them.

“You want the ball to bounce halfway be­tween you and your part­ner,” in­structs Pen­ney.

Be­fore the play­ers give it a go, the coach shows them the proper tech­nique. Plac­ing his thumbs be­hind the ball, Pen­ney pushes the ball to­ward the space be­tween him and his part­ner. Hit­ting the spot be­tween them, the ball bounces right where Pen­ney wants it to go. “Now, you try,” he says. With that, the 10 ath­letes are off to the races. Pen­ney will have five more in the el­e­men­tary group once this ses­sion is fin­ished, for a to­tal of 15 young bas­ket­ballers.

Some bas­ket­balls strike their tar­get, while oth­ers ca­reen to the side or over the heads of the in­tended re­cip­i­ent. There is some work to be done with their de­liv­ery, but they’re only just learn­ing the game of bas­ket­ball.

Pen­ney pa­tiently works with each player, iron­ing out their tech­niques and en­cour­ag­ing them to try again.

All of this in­struc­tion is a part of the Con­cep­tion Bay North Youth Bas­ket­ball Pro­gram. Started in 2011-2012, Pen­ney felt there was a need for a bas­ket­ball pro­gram geared at the younger groups.

Right now, the pro­gram wel­comes stu­dents from three of the pri­mary and el­e­men­tary schools — Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary, All Hal­lows and Amal­ga­mated Acad­emy — in the re­gion, but Pen­ney has not counted out chil­dren from nearby Holy Redeemer in Spa­niard’s Bay, or other schools farther up the shore as the pro­gram grows. “The more the mer­rier,” he says. Orig­i­nally the Steve Nash Youth Bas­ket­ball, Pen­ney found that the cost of jer­seys and equip­ment kept regis­tra­tion fees high. Con­vert­ing to the CBN youth league, Pen­ney said the cost for par­ents av­er­ages out to $10 per prac­tice.

Run­ning on Tues­days at the school dur­ing the spring ses­sions, the time is di­vided into learn­ing the fun­da­men­tals and play­ing games.

“I know there was a soc­cer pro­gram, but in the win­ter, there is not much in the way of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity for kids, be­sides hockey,” says Pen­ney. “For pri­mary kids, the more sports you play, the bet­ter.”

A num­bers ex­plo­sion

In the sec­ond sea­son, Pen­ney has found him­self with more stu­dents than last year. As word gets around, more and more chil­dren are com­ing out to the group.

Some of the chil­dren who have come out have a great love for the game, says Pen­ney.

“The en­ergy is out there,” he says. “There are peo­ple play­ing in their drive­ways, you just have to find them.”

Pen­ney’s hope is that the pro­gram will gen­er­ate enough in­ter­est to even­tu­ally di­vide the play­ers into pri­mary, el­e­men­tary and ju­nior high di­vi­sions.

With gym time at a pre­mium in the re­gion, greater num­bers could lead to a change in the time, mov­ing into the evenings or even week­ends.

Pen­ney is not look­ing to change venues any­time soon.

“The sup­port from the school has been ex­cel­lent,” he says. “They’ve been ac­com­mo­dat­ing with the gym time and equip­ment use.”

Teach­ing the game

Build­ing the game of bas­ket­ball in the re­gion is the pro­gram’s pri­mary goal.

Pen­ney is teach­ing some of the finer points of bas­ket­ball, like know­ing to push the ball rather than slap­ping it when drib­bling and proper shoot­ing tech­nique.

To teach spac­ing, Pen­ney di­vides the court into squares and tells the play­ers not to move from their square.

If he does not do this, the coach finds all of the play­ers go for the ball in­stead of play­ing their po­si­tion.

“That way they have to pass it to that square,” says Pen­ney. “With the proper tech­nique, they’re go­ing to flour­ish in this sport.”

The hope for Pen­ney is that once he teaches the chil­dren some of the fun­da­men­tals, they will carry that home and per­fect them.

“I’d like to see bas­ket­ball flour­ish in the Con­cep­tion Bay North area,” he says.

Any­one in­ter­ested in the league or has a ques­tion can con­tact cb­ny­outhb­

Photo by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The Con­cep­tion Bay North Youth Bas­ket­ball Pro­gram is in its sec­ond year of op­er­a­tion and fea­tures 15 young ath­letes from the re­gion. The pro­gram runs Tues­day nights at All Hol­lows El­e­men­tary in North River and teaches the fun­da­men­tals of the game. Mem­bers of the pro­gram are: front — Jesse Tay­lor; mid­dle — Leilah Rod­way, Is­abel Par­sons, Meadow Rod­way, Bri­anne Tay­lor, Claire Pen­ney, Ben­jamin Eddy and Erin O’Brien-Rogers; back — Julie Edwards, Han­nah Crane, Ron­nie Smith, Rebecca Snow, Adam Costello, Hai­ley Power and Jessie Pen­ney.

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