The Jr. NBA program in Hay River has expanded to include younger players.
“This will be the first time it will be hosted for Grades 1 to 3,” said Jason Morrissey, the new co-ordinator for Jr. NBA in the community.
The program has previously been open to students in Grades 4 to 7 and will continue to be.
When registration closed on Nov. 1, there were 34 young players signed up.
Jr. NBA is offered across Canada – where it was known at Steve Nash Youth Basketball until a couple of years ago – and the United States.
“Its purpose is to bring basketball development and the fun of basketball and learning through basketball to youth across Canada at the community level, and to do it in the right way,” said Morrissey. “It’s a research-based practice. It follows the Canada Support for Life Program’s Long-Term Athlete Development Model.”
Jr. NBA is designed to make basketball fun for young people so they can develop and progress through the sport, he added. “Not just to learn basketball and the skills, but also to use basketball as a vehicle to develop their character and transferable skills like sportsmanship, co-operation and setting goals.”
The 10 weekly sessions for participants from Grades 1 to 3 will be offered after school on Tuesdays in the gym at Harry Camsell School, beginning on Nov. 12.
Meanwhile, the 10 weekly sessions for Grades 4 to 7 will be offered after school on Thursdays at Princess Alexandra School, beginning on Nov. 14.
Along with those two schools, there will be participants from Ecole Boreale, along with some homeschooled children.
Jr. NBA, then Steve Nash Youth Basketball, was brought to Hay River several years ago by Finno Celestin, who recently left the community.
Celestin offered the program to students in Grades 4 to 7 at Princess Alexandra School and at Ecole Boreale.
“I very recently became the co-ordinator of the Jr. NBA program in Hay River,” said Morrissey. “I took it over maybe a couple of weeks ago.”
However, he has had experience with the program in the past, including while teaching in Deline when a coach started a Steve Nash Youth Basketball program.
“So I was a helping coach in that program,” he said. “I wasn’t the co-ordinator, but I helped out with it.”
This year, Morrissey’s seven-year-old son Brayden Morrissey will be participating in Jr. NBA for the first time, and he is looking forward to it.
“I’ve been wanting to do this Jr. NBA since I was five years old,” said Brayden, who adds that his friends are also excited about Jr. NBA.
For the children from Grades 1 to 3, the program focuses on the fundamentals, like how to pass and receive a basketball and how to shoot.
A focus on the fundamentals continues for participants from Grades 4 to 7.
“However, there’ll be an increased focus on learning sports skills and those technical skills associated with basketball, and they’ll do some small-sided games, as well,” said Morrissey. “So that’s where that competitive aspect comes in, as well.”
This year, there will be four coaches for each section of the program.
Every participant in Jr. NBA gets a jersey, a drawstring bag, a basketball, a certificate and a poster.