Unlike a lot of other sports, basketball is a game where even late bloomers can have a great deal of success. For an example, look no further than Victoria’s Steve Nash.
The two-time NBA MVP and eight-time All-Star didn’t even start playing basketball until he was nearly a teenager, but his skills at other sports, including soccer, helped him improve rapidly.
“It’s a sport that a lot of kids get into late and it’s not like hockey where if you don’t start playing it when you’re five, you’re going to be behind,” said Brad Lidstone, one of Westshore Basketball’s two co-directors. “We really make sure that kids, regardless of their age and ability, are having a positive experience.”
Westshore Basketball hosted a two day skills development program over the weekend at the Belmont secondary gym, with one day set aside for boys and another for girls.
The session served as a chance for returning players to get back into the gym and work on their skills, while for others it was an opportunity to sink their teeth into a new sport.
Westshore Basketball has seen solid growth over the last several years, with an estimated 10 per cent registration increase in each of the organization’s last three seasons. This year, it is expected that the Westshore will send 15 teams into the regional Night League, which runs from October to March.
Lidstone credits the sport’s relatively low registration fees as one factor in the organization’s growth. “There’s very limited equipment required so the financial commitment to get going is very small,” he said.
Another factor is the organization’s commitment to ensure that its participants are placed in the best environment for them to have fun and improve their skills.
“We put them on a team that’s going to match their competitive nature as well as their individual skills. We really try and level the teams so that any kid, regardless of experience, has the opportunity to play,” Lidstone noted.
In particular, Westshore basketball has had a lot of success with its girls’ program, with a lot of girls from the region performing well at both the Night League and school level.
The organization also has a program that’s designed specifically for new players called Westshore Rain.
Kids as young as four and five have participated in what Lidstone calls a “Timbits-inspired” program for youngsters. Now entering its fourth year, a lot of the kids who started out in the Rain program are now graduating to the Night League.
All of this development is encouraging for Lidstone, who sees future school success as a by-product of the rapid development within the organization.
“The main goal of our organization is to have success with the kids at the Night League, but also to have the highest amount of success at the school level,” said Lidstone, who also coaches high school girls at Belmont secondary. “Ultimately we’d like to bring a provincial championship in basketball to the West Shore.”
For more information on Westshore Basketball, including registration details, visit westshorebasketball.com.