Girls tour­na­ment a step in right di­rec­tion

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

There was a point dur­ing the All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary Girls Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment Apr. 16 when Dave Pen­ney saw changes in his play­ers.

Hosted at Amal­ga­mated Academy in Bay Roberts, Pen­ney had one of his play­ers want to stick around the gym for the re­main­der of his team’s games in­stead of head­ing to hockey.

It showed the coach of All Hal­lows that maybe this bas­ket­ball thing is worth con­tin­u­ing.

“I might even have an­other week­end be­fore this year is over,” said Pen­ney. “If I can get gym time, I’d like to do an­other one.”

The tour­na­ment fea­tured five Grade 6 fe­male teams from schools in Holy­rood, Con­cep­tion Har­bour, Dunville, Spa­niard’s Bay and North River.

Play­ing two games at a time — cross-court — meant play­ers were al­ways in move­ment. Sel­dom were they sit­ting for long stretches.

The fair play rules that gov­ern bas­ket­ball at that level en­sured ev­ery player got a fair shake at the game.

Pen­ney felt the tour­na­ment was a huge suc­cess.

“It went pretty smoothly. It was an ex­cel­lent day,” he said.

“I thought us­ing two courts all week­end worked ex­cel­lent. I was re­ally happy with it.”

There were no medal for first place or a cham­pi­onship ban­ner handed out on the day.

It was more about get­ting a game of bas­ket­ball for the play­ers. It had a jam­boree feel to it. “There was a lot of growth,” said Pen­ney.

Im­pressed with re­sults

Get­ting bas­ket­ball ex­pe­ri­ence and hav­ing that ex­po­sure to the game at that level is go­ing to help any young ath­lete.

It can be all that pushes a sport from fringe ac­tiv­ity to main­stream in a re­gion.

Pen­ney said he saw plenty of that hap­pen­ing over the week­end.

Over­all, the play­ers were do­ing things at the end of the day that they weren’t do­ing at the be­gin­ning.

Con­cepts be­came clearer and the game be­came sim­pler.

“The play­ers are im­prov­ing all of the time,” he said.

“They did an awe­some job. It’s a real ac­com­plish­ment.”

The grass­roots

Holy Redeemer coach Cathy Downey knows a thing or two about grass­roots sports and build­ing a pro­gram.

She has been in­volved with the CBN Vol­ley­ball Club the past sev­eral sea­sons.

It’s an en­tity that has suc­cess­fully ex­posed younger play­ers to the game of vol­ley­ball at a younger age.

For a sport like bas­ket­ball, it needs to start player younger.

“I see a lot of im­prove­ment in the play­ers,” said Downey.

“It’s bridg­ing the gap be­tween the gym and the game.”

Even with the pos­i­tive signs of de­vel­op­ment, the so­cial as­pect was just as im­pres­sive for Downey as it was for ex­pos­ing kids to the sport.

“The play­ers got to be a part of a school team. They spent time with their team­mates and got to make new friends,” she said.

“It was great hav­ing an event like that on the week­end.”

It has Pen­ney ex­cited for the fu­ture too.

“I think it helped raise the level of girl’s bas­ket­ball in the re­gion,” he said.

“I think it helped raise the level of girl’s bas­ket­ball in the re­gion.” Dave Pen­ney

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

All Hal­lows El­e­men­tary Grade 5 girls bas­ket­ball player Claire Pen­ney at­tempts a shot dur­ing tour­na­ment play at Amal­ga­mated Academy in Bay Roberts on Apr. 16.

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