Five years down the road, when AESS and Hope Secondary’s senior teams face off on the basketball court, some of these kids will look back and remember that their careers started out at a local elementary school.
Under the direction of Donna Gallamore, Kent Elementary has had a basketball program for over 20 years. Harrison has also dabbled in inter-school play — but this year, the game has spread to Silver Creek School.
Harrison principal, Tammy Nazarchuk, who played basketball at HSS in the 1980s, came up with a plan for a School District #78 elementary league, with a home-and-away series between district schools. Silver Creek and Kent jumped on board and games started in late January.
“I thought it would be a lot of fun for our students to play against other teams in our district, in a more organized manner,” said Nazarchuk, Monday. “Players get to know each other and visit other schools in the district. The board office supported the idea and has agreed to pay for busing.”
Nazarchuk coaches the girls at Harrison and Dave Dunster coaches the boys. Last Thursday, Harrison travelled to Silver Creek, edging out their hosts with a 12-11 win for the boys and a 16-12 win for the girls.
The boys’ game featured a 3-point swish shot by Silver Creek’s Riley Charlie, who proudly located his launching point after the game, a couple of steps inside Harrison’s half.
The Silver Creek girls made a substantial improvement from their opening game, versus the visiting Kent team a week earlier. They still have to work out some wrinkles, such as refraining from doing a two-step dance while standing with the ball. Thankfully, the referees were able to turn a blind eye, to help the game move along.
“I think the reffing is great,” said Silver Creek boys’ coach, Dave Parsons, who also assists Jo Hughes with the girls’ team. “There are several high school students who have reffed the games and they’ve done an amazing job at helping the players learn the rules of the game, while encouraging sportsmanship and fun.”
Parsons is in his second year at the school. He brings his coaching experience from his years of teaching at Ahousaht, on Vancouver Island.
“I started coaching the grade 7 and 8 boys’ team and continued coaching them throughout their high school years. Being a very talented team from a small community posed numerous challenges,” recalled Parsons. “We had difficulty finding competitive games at our age level, so we played teams several years older. There were quite a few lop-sided losses, that first year — but there were also a lot of smiling faces, laughter and growth. This same team would eventually win the North Island championships a few times and represent their division in the provincial tournament.
Speaking of this year’s elementary league, Parsons said, “It’s been a fantastic experience. We’re a small school district and this is a great way for the students throughout the district to come together in fun and friendship. I’d like this to continue in other sports.”
At Kent Elementary, Gallamore coaches the boys and Karin Vickers, the girls.
“We practice twice a week,” said Gallamore. “We focus on the basic skills, as I want the students to leave elementary school knowing the basics and how to play — as well as being able to do both a right and left hand lay-up.”
Gallamore has a tentative plan for a season-ending tournament, but availability of gym time at AESS will be pivotal.