Several dozen young players, basketballs held in shooting position, listen intently as Brett Westcott wanders amongst them on the Belmont gymnasium floor.
The University of Victoria Vikes women’s team assistant was guest coach for Tuesday’s session of the Westshore Basketball Winter Break Camp and is giving players tips on everything from shooting form to how to achieve continued improvement.
Later as the players sit quietly, he relayed a quote from a coaching clinic he attended this year, “If it is to be, then, it’s up to me.” He points out that hard work and dedication will help one improve at anything in life, including basketball.
Having coached the Camosun Chargers women and high school teams before his current gig, Westcott observed that the camp has a real mix of players and experience levels.
“We just want to try and give them some fundamentals to build on, some things that we’ve picked up and we use with our girls up at UVic, and just try to expose them to some new ideas,” Westcott said of he and Vikes player Kristy Gallagher helping out for the day. “For some of them it’s going to be way over their head, but for others … I just had one of the Belmont senior boys come up and say, ‘I went to this camp four years ago and I learned how to shoot because of what we did in the drills.’”
Brad Lidstone, who oversees the annual week-long event for Westshore Basketball, liked what he’d seen so far.
“The kids are super focused, they’re really engaged in what we’re doing and they’re working really hard to get better,” he said, adding there was also “a lot of smiley faces.”
Coaches like Westcott, who regularly runs camps for the greater basketball community, are “super valuable” in environments such as this, he added.
Hakima Chahal, a Grade 8 girls player at Spencer middle school, said she got a lot out of the ball handling and shooting drills. And she appreciated having Gallagher and Westcott on hand to emphasize the importance of the basics.
“You could tell that he knows what he’s talking about,” she said of the latter.
Nicola Spaven, a Grade 6 Spencer student whose dad, Curt, helps run Westshore Basketball, has been playing five years already. She enjoys the camps because, “I like to learn as much as I can about basketball and be the best that I can.”
For anyone looking to improve, she added, there are plenty of activities to help with that at the camp. “I hope that a lot of these parents didn’t just ship their kids here to (have something to do over Christmas break).”
Right as Rain … Westshore Basketball has room in its Thursday Westshore Rain program, a learn-to-play setup designed for newcomers or novices. The sessions run from 6 to 7 p.m. for players aged five to seven, and 7 to 8 p.m. for kids seven to 10. To register or find more details , email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit westshorebasketball.com.