Bandits guard Tyrrel Tate, along with the Heritage Park Middle School Highlanders Grade 9 girls team shows off the brand new mesh installed at the school. It’s the first of several planned upgrades by the team to courts in the Fraser Valley. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Fraser Valley Bandits helping creating better places to play basketball

The pro basketball team installs brand new netting at Mission’s Heritage Park Middle School.

The Fraser Valley Bandits brought a little love to Mission’s Heritage Park Middle School basketball court last week, and a Chilliwack court may be next.

The school’s 10-foot single standing rim outside now has a brand new mesh courtesy of the team, and the bright orange netting was installed by the team as a service to the community and the Fraser Valley as a whole.

The addition is one of several minor upgrades planned to local courts by the team at spots all across the region.

The Bandits are working with the Abbotsford Basketball Association to clean up courts in Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Aldergrove over the coming months. Team officials will be doing things like putting up nets, sweeping courts and improving the conditions for locals to play.

Team officials said the main goal is to grow the game locally, and develop an increased awareness of the Bandits.

The HPMS installation, which occurred on June 5, saw the Bandits bring out star player Tyrell Tate to help out with putting the net in and also meet with the Highlanders Grade 9 girls basketball team. That team finished an impressive third overall at the provincials, which was the best result by any HPMS at that level.

Bandits representatives said HPMS was the first stop on the Fraser Valley upgrade tour partly because of that team’s strong performance at provincials, but also because of the work of long time coach Frank Chan, who was not available to attend the event on June 5.

HPMS teachers and coaches Angie Vetter and Greg McNeill were there, and Vetter said the new netting will be appreciated by the students.

“Every recess so many students come and play basketball and this new net gives them something positive to do at the school,” she said, noting that it can be a bit of a task to chase down the ball without mesh.

Vetter said 2019 will be remembered as a special one for the Highlanders Grade 9 girls team.

“These guys really persevered and had a great season,” she said of the team, who were also invited to the installation. “To finish third in the province is amazing, especially coming from little Mission, B.C. We’re very proud of them.”

She said there continues to be a big buzz about basketball in Mission, and the Bandits have helped grow local interest. She said the game is popular both at the high school and club level in Mission.

Tate spoke to the team after the net was installed and encouraged the girls to play the game.

“If you love it then stick with it,” he said. “There will be ups and downs but let the passion take control.”

Tate played NCAA Division II basketball with North Carolina’s Fayetteville State and went on to play in the NBA’s Developmental League now known as the G League with the Idaho Stampede, Canton Charge and Texas Legends.

He was born in Calgary, but grew up in North Carolina, making him a great fit for the Bandits and the Canadian Elite Basketball League as the CEBL wants to maintain a significant Canadian presence in the league.

Tate also told the girls that there is a lot of potential in the sport for girls, with more and more chances to make a living.

“The women’s game is really growing,” he said. “And I think it’s becoming much more respected. There is the WNBA or you can go overseas so there are a lot of opportunities.

“It’s not always about going to the biggest school – I went to a smaller one – it’s about maximizing your time wherever you’re at.”

For more details on the court improvement program, contact the Bandits manager of marketing and communications Andrew Savory at asavory@thebandits.ca.

 

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