Program teaching basketball to young athletes
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 email@example.com.
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.