By Hoops

To mark the end of the season, if there even is an off-season now, and to finish my writings for the year, I thought I would focus on something coming up - our provincial teams. After the club championships are finished the try-outs are scheduled for the weekend on May 24 & 25.

I think we were all very proud of the successes of all of our teams last summer. Manitoba is now definitely seen as a province to be reckoned with and a threat for medals at all age levels. The slate of coaches for our provincial teams was published awhile back and I think we should all be very thankful that such good people are willing to sacrifice much of their summer to work with our athletes. The experience of playing on one of our provincial teams is the chance of a lifetime for any young athlete. All good, right ? Maybe not.

There is one somewhat disturbing fact relative to this subject. I have heard some discussion in various circles at some games this past season. It seems that some club coaches, some parents, and even some players question whether they should even try out for our provincial teams, and that seems unbelievable to this author. The opportunity to represent our province in national competition would seem to the ultimate goal for any basketball player, and, in my opinion, it should be. Why would any coach or parent tell a young player not to participate in our provincial programs? I can only guess. I hope it isn't for selfish reasons, after all, shouldn't we be doing what is best for the athletes? I think that I have always been a supporter of our provincial organization, Basketball Manitoba, but, after doing these columns this year and becoming more aware of all the things it does, I am now an even bigger supporter and will do everything I can do to promote and support our provincial programs, which are a big part of their programs - maybe the biggest.

If Manitoba is going to continue to compete for medals at our national championships, we need our very best representing us. Other provinces like Ontario, with a larger population and a deeper talent pool, may still able to compete without their very best representing them. Manitoba is not like that - we need our best out there.

I am aware that Basketball Manitoba invests many resources in our provincial programs. According to my sources in other provinces, the cost per athlete here is substantially lower than elsewhere and parents here are given opportunities to raise funds through working bingos. I am hoping that all of our club and school coaches and parents will encourage their best kids - male and female - to be there on that weekend in May and to compete for a spot on Team Toba. Let's all get behind this and make this summer the best ever.

This is my last submission as Hoops. I have enjoyed being able to express my opinions on a variety of subjects. I would like to thank the people at Basketball Manitoba for giving me this opportunity. Will I be back next season ? We'll see. Thanks to all those who have read my columns and submitted comments. I really like the slogan of Basketball Manitoba - "Together We Grow Basketball".

Let's all keep up the good work and do it together.
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