A group of avid hoops fans and active volunteers are hoping to keep the momentum going for the Westshore Basketball Association.
Entering its third year of existence, the association is looking to break the 100-player mark when it holds its annual registration night next Friday (Sept. 19) from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rotary gazebo across from The Q Centre at West Shore Parks and Recreation.
“Every year we’ve run, we’ve experienced growth,” said Brad Lidstone, co-director of the association with Curt Spaven. “We had seven teams and 80 kids playing last year and we’re hoping for 10 teams this year.”
A Timbits soccer-inspired initiation program called Westshore Rain offers fun-based skills development for kids aged six through nine. It’s separated into nine-week chunks, with the idea to give younger players, especially those without basketball experience, a chance to try the sport out to see if they like it.
As players get older they move into age categories: under-11, U-13, U-15 and U-18, on teams that play in the Victoria and District Basketball Association night leagues. Once-a-week practices begin later this month and the game schedule runs from mid-October to just before spring break.
While many of the older players also play on their school teams, Lidstone says, there’s plenty of room for first-time players to join in, no matter what their age.
“It’s nice for parents to know there’s different options for their kids,” he said. “We try and keep our sport as affordable as we can.”
Lidstone, who also coaches girls basketball at Belmont secondary, said the night league is also a good development system for school teams. Young players learn skills, sportsmanship and team-building that become more important as they move up the competitive ladder.
“We want to build that base of the pyramid as broad as we can, so the upper levels have more players coming up. It’s great to make our school teams competitive.”
The WBA also holds skills camps at the Christmas and spring breaks, as well as summer and sends teams to out of town tournaments.
The association uses school gyms for games and practices and is hopeful the teachers’ strike will be settled by the time it starts. Lidstone said. If not, opening practices may be held outside.
For more information on the association and registration costs, visit westshorebasketball.com.