The postponement/suspension/demise of a proposed Basketball BC program at GW Graham has created a fire storm of reaction.
Proponents of the program say an opportunity has been lost and blame a small and self-interested group for bringing it down.
Opponents of the program say they weren’t consulted, and believe it will siphon off top players and hurt what they’ve built in their own schools.
Announced in early May, the program would have started this fall at GWG, and been open to any eligible student in the entire school district. In Wednesday’s Chilliwack Progress, Chilliwack secondary school basketball coaches Joe Mauro and Joe Ogmundson both expressed concern that the program might, intentionally or unintentionally, serve as a recruitment tool for GWG.
While that put the focus on the CSS bench bosses, Sardis secondary school junior girls basketball coach Gina Graves says many more people have issues.
“It is very disheartening to read on Facebook that the large egos of two coaches had this program postponed, when that is not the case,” she said. “It was not the actions of two coaches, but the actions and concerns of multiple coaches within the district which resulted in it being postponed. For this program to have been successful, all coaches needed to have been consulted before it was introduced, rather than reading about it for the first time in the newspaper.”
But even within one school, opinions can differ.
Richard Tagle is one of the longest serving senior coaches in the district, with a tenure surpassed only by Mauro and Ogmundson.
While he agrees communication and consultation should have been done. At the same time, without assigning blame to anyone on either side, he also feels a great opportunity may be slipping away.
“To provide an opportunity to kids to advance themselves is what our education system is all about. We are here to allow kids to reach their potential and excel,” he said. “We, as coaches at this level of development, are here to develop, enhance and improve the skills of our players and students. This isn’t about championships won, banners on the wall or who has the best team.”
Tagle believes the conversation would be vastly different if the program was centered around math, english or science skills. Because it’s basketball, he believes competitive concerns are getting in the way.
“For some of the athletes in the district, university is affordable on an athletic scholarship, and aren’t we suppose to help them excel?” he asked. “I was excited to have the opportunity to have Al (UFV head coach and proposed program head coach Tuchscherer) coach my own children. I believe that my two children would have benefitted greatly from him. Both my children will be at Sardis next year, and I am saddened that my Grade 12 daughter will miss out on this opportunity.”
One parent who has opposed the program didn’t respond to Progress interview requests this week, but parents in favour of the program offered their take.
“As a mother of three teens who have been passionately involved in club and school basketball for the past 8 years, I was thrilled to hear of this new program,” said Kirsti Dueck. “Having attended the information session, my kids were excited to try out. One of them called it ‘a dream come true’ and ‘something I have waited for my whole life.’ I am still unclear as to why this positive experience for our children has become such a political one.”
Vedder middle school’s Sue Northey sees the value in the program, and hopes it can still be salvaged.
“A West Vancouver program similar to this one operated on neutral territory (the West Van Rec Centre). could Chilliwack not run the programme out of the Landing Sports Centre, the YMCA, a more central school or a rotation of schools,” she questioned. “Is there a stipulation with this program that if they do join they may not transfer to GWG? These questions could all have been asked and answered had other coaches been given the opportunity for feedback prior to going public.”