BC Summer Games a family affair for Kennedy clan

Two generations of Kennedys will represent Richmond in basketball at the upcoming BC Summer Games in Nanaimo. Elizabeth (left) will play for the under-13 girls
Two generations of Kennedys will represent Richmond in basketball at the upcoming BC Summer Games in Nanaimo. Elizabeth (left) will play for the under-13 girls' 3 on 3 team and Nicholas (right) on the under-13 boys' 3 on 3 team. Their dad, Chris, is head coach of both teams.
— image credit: Don Fennell photo

Twenty years after guiding the Fraser River-Delta zone boys' basketball team, featuring future Richmond legend Pasha Bains, history is about to repeat itself for Chris Kennedy.

Only this weekend's B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo will be a family affair for Kennedy, who will serve as head coach of both his daughter Elizabeth's under-13 girls' team and son Nicholas' under-13 boys' squad.

"It's going to be pretty special," says the always-affable Kennedy, who in 1994 was still in the early days of his coaching career in hoops. "So much of my life has been built around basketball and it will be neat to also have my wife and two other kids there to share the experience."

Seemingly always ahead of the curve, the ever-innovative Kennedy will be helping to introduce a new form of basketball at these Games: three on three.

"There is a huge growth in three on three around the world that is being supported by FIBA (International Basketball Federation)," he says. "They hope to have it become an Olympic sport was early as 2020. Many in the basketball community hope that three on three will be a high intensity companion to traditional five on five in the same way beach volleyball has complemented traditional volleyball."

Likening the concept to the streetball made popular by young New Yorkers, three on three is more structured and provides youth with a greater opportunity to develop their skills than traditional five on five hoops.

"Kids want to be play a part in the games they're playing and with this there's more opportunity to be on the ball, to dribble and shoot ," says Kennedy. "And because you always have to be in motion you develop quicker."

"It's become a cool cousin to regular five on five because the games are short with lots of action," he adds. "Three on three also tends to be even more athletic with lots of one on one and, at among adults playing at the high end, plenty of dunks and alley-oops. You're going to see more and more kids understanding both three and three and five on five basketball."

Kennedy is stoked about getting to coach kids who, at this age, are still eager to learn. He's equally excited that he is able to work with excellent, experienced and legendary Richmond coaches in Sean Berda (who is helping with the boys) and Trish Nicholson (with the girls).

"It's like 20 years ago all over again when the three of us coached at McRoberts," says Kennedy.

With gym time hard to come by during the teachers strike, the teams have spent most nights over the last month at the South Arm Community Centre outdoor courts working through their drills and preparing for the Games.

While a competitive zone—open to athletes from Richmond, Delta, Burnaby and New Westminster—the two basketball teams wound up with 16 of the 18 players being from Richmond and 13 of them having been part of the Richmond Youth Basketball League rep program.  Kennedy says that's a real credit to the grassroots efforts in Richmond to grow youth basketball in the community. Players are also developing through the Steve Nash Program and are now part of the Basketball BC provincial programs.

The under-13 girls' roster is heavy with Grade 7s and includes eight Richmondites—Bella Roberts, Jayna Wilson, Kara Moscovitz, Olivia Tweedlie, Emma Wallace, Morgan Flynn as well as Grade 6 student Elizabeth Kennedy and Grade 5 student Kate Carkner. The boys' roster is much younger and will have to face older competition at the Games.  Of the eight boys from Richmond, six have just finished Grade 6—Ian Kern, Apaar Sahota, Jerric Palma, Sargun Singh, Jordan Si and Nicholas Berda.  They are joined by recent Grade 5 student Nicholas Kennedy and Grade 4 standout Marco Esteban.

Kennedy says beyond basketball, the opportunity to participate in the B.C. Summer Games is an experience that last a lifetime.

"I think it's the biggest amateur sporting event we have in B.C. and we're lucky to have a Games like this," he says. "I had a brother compete in track and another in rugby and can vividly remember every game. As a young kid you get to be part of something big and to see all these other sports and athletes. Everyone competes, but it's truly more about sharing the Games experience than winning."


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