High school basketball in Chilliwack is taking a quantum leap forward with the introduction of a BC Basketball Program at G.W. Graham middle-secondary school.
Open to male and female players in Grades 8-10, the program was introduced at Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
There will be an open-forum community meeting to outline the concept and goals of the program May 20 (7 p.m. in the GWG gymnasium).
The program will be housed at G.W. Graham, but GWG athletic director Jake Mouritzen wants to be perfectly clear that this is not a GWG program. It will be open to students from any school within the Chilliwack School District.
If a middle-secondary school student in Chilliwack wants to improve their b-ball skills, they are more than welcome to take part in a selection process.
“You can stay at your home school and maintain your eligibility to compete in any sport at your home school,” Mouritzen explained.
Participating students can receive four course credits towards graduation, and get 100+ hours of training.
It will run three times a week during the basketball offseason (September to November and April to June) and once a week during the basketball season. Most sessions will run in the mornings before school, with an additional 10-30 hours of instruction outside of the regularly scheduled sessions.
“Scott Allen (Trinity Western University head coach) is on board, but he’s never going to be here at 6:45 a.m. on a weekday morning,” Mouritzen laughed.
All instruction will happen outside of school hours, one distinction from other sports academies in Chilliwack that happen ‘in time-table.’
University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball bench boss Al Tuchscherer has stepped forward as an associate head coach.
“He’s committed to do a percentage of training throughout the year, but he’s only a small part of it,” Mouritzen said. “We’re going to bring in multiple CIS coaches, BC college coaches, trainers, sports psychologists, nutritionists — all from higher levels. It’s something we’ve never done in Chilliwack.”
Tuchscherer’s involvement grants access to a vast network of contacts.
The amiable coach believes his colleagues will be happy to help in the name of ‘giving back.’
“We’re a surprisingly tight group, and I know in the past I’ve taken my team to Winnipeg and Tanya (McKay, Wesmen head coach) has called me up and said, ‘Hey. We have a coaching clinic. Would you mind doing a session?’” Tuchscherer said. “We’re kind of basketball junkies. We love sharing thoughts and ideas with other coaches and players. I don’t think it will be a stretch getting some of them to run a session for us.”
This is the third BC Basketball program to be launched in the province.
The other two are in West Vancouver and Burnaby North.
Both started this year and BC Basketball would eventually like to see an program in every school district across BC.
Mouritzen started talking to BC Basketball last September after they reached out to gauge his interest.
“The first one, at West Vancouver secondary school, ran this year with 30 students in Grades 8-9,” Mouritzen said. “They just had their community open house two weeks ago, for next year, and they had 250 families attend. There’s no reason it can’t grow like that in Chilliwack.”
BC Basketball estimates most high school players get three to four hours of training a week for 18 weeks — a total of 54 to 72 hours.
Canadian Sport for Life believes an athlete requires 10,000 hours to reach an elite level (canadiansportforlife.ca).
How the training will look is still being mapped out, though Tuchscherer said they will need to adhere to Basketball BC curriculum guidelines.
“There will be an athleticism component and a mental training component,” he said. “It’s not just a morning shoot-around. It’s quite specific to developing an all-round elite athlete.”
One of the most valuable teaching tools in the program will be the ‘different voice’ aspect. Having Tuchscherer run one session, followed by someone completely different should keep the content fresh and the students engaged.
“I think there’s multiple ways to get a point across and get to that ‘ah ha’ moment for kids, and absolutely that’s very valuable,” Tuchscherer said. “With 100 hours of instruction, we can change the world in 100 hours. I really believe we can make a significant differences with purposeful instructions and athletes who come to the gym ready to learn.”
The registration fee is going to be $900, which compares well with other local programs. If interest is as strong as Mouritzen hopes, a selection process may be required to pare down the list of applicants.
“We won’t really know who’s interested until that open house, but we hope families come out to learn more about this opportunity,” he said.
An evaluation camp will take place June 3 to select the 30 athletes who will form the first class. Mouritzen said the selection process will go beyond what the players show on the court.
“There will be written requirements with info from references, and they’ll have to show they’re committed student athletes who are capable of managing this,” he said.
“We’ll need their school administrator to say they’re an excellent student with the ability to balance this responsibility.”
Ross Tomlinson, Basketball BC’s technical director and manager for sport performance, is interested to see how things unfold, and believes the program is in a perfect place.
“Chilliwack has demonstrated a long standing commitment to basketball at the youth, club and high school levels, with an established history of player development,” he observed. “G.W. Graham and their staff have made a very serious commitment to basketball and player development. They have a strong desire to work with athletes and schools throughout the school district to elevate the overall level of basketball development.”
Tomlinson’s long-range vision is for this to be a pioneering program, blazing the trail for those that follow.
“Basketball BC would like to partner with school districts to establish program programs across BC,” he acknowledged. “This program allows students to stay at their home schools, with their friends, while still having the opportunity to pursue their passion for basketball. Participants will undoubtedly bring a higher level of skill enhancement back to their home schools, which in turn will benefit their teammates and coaches.”