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    April 23, 2014

    Off The Rim - "Provincial Teams"

    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.
    We welcome your comments on this topic by posting them below!  Basketball Manitoba welcomes submissions from the basketball community to its website.  If you would like to become a regular contributor, please contact our webmaster.  
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    1. Without the Provincial Programs I don't think that athletes like Ben Miller and Emily Potter would have received the national attention that has enabled them the opportunities they have to continue Playing this great game.

      I agree with your comments whole heartedly. Even with its perceived systemic flaws and inequalities the Provincial Program still continues to grow basketball in Manitoba far better than any other means available.

    2. Aside from tugging at someone's patriotic heart strings, why not ask the tough questions about our Provincial program: can it be better than it currently is? can it ever challenge Ontario? why are these kids shying away from the Provincial program? I had my kid tryout for the program but it was a waste of time; the coaches had shown a predisposition for certain players and the tryouts were a waste of time. There was no way that they were going to evaluate all 75 kids who came out and they chose a few kids that peaked their interest (i.e. I want to see what the tallest guy can do against the guys I want) beyond the "pre-determined" kids they were going to select.

      Why doesn't the provincial program build more depth within the program? Why not have up to 20-30 kids train and be eligible to play? Why not have two teams that can travel and play in AAU tournaments in the summer? Why not get more involved with the clubs that run programs for the kids that could potentially make the provincial program?

      But hey, it's a lot easier to point the finger at the kids and their parents rather than take a long look in the mirror. This attitude doesn't surprise me; it's easier to pat yourself on the back than to challenge yourself, it's just human nature.

      1. The provincial program in my mind is not broken. I had a daughter who played in it from her development year (gr. 7) to grade 11. Enjoying both the Western Canada and Canada Summer games. She met a lot of nice people and coaches along the way. Each year she was exposed to a different head coach and learned something from each of them. However, there are good club programs out there especially in the boys that do offer a good spring/summer program and some kids really want to play with those particular teammates and have that particular coach. There is no fear of getting cut and they are comfortable in their role on the team. Trying out for the provincial team changes all that. Like I said we had a good experience with the provincial program but obviously not everyone does. I think to some degree certain coaches feel comfortable with certain types of players and that is who they pick, it's not as POLITICAL as everyone thinks it is.

      2. I unequivacally disagree that it is not political. You are very lucky to be one of the chosen to play on a Provincial squad. I believe that much of the evaluation is done prior to the tryouts even begin. That is the first part of the politics. Nothing wrong with this, just make it transparent that it's happening. The reason it is not published is there wouldn't be nearly as many kids attending the try-outs.
        The coahces most definitely have a predetermined roster in mind, I know this because one of the female coaches told me this. Even though a post was injured he wanted her on his team so selected her. The requirement was she must "attend" a certain amount of hours of evaluation. This player did attend but could not participate with the effort that would have won her a position. That was the final straw for me and the most political BS I ever witnessed in the program. I truely hope that the recent development of these gifted coaches has changed this practice.

    3. I agree wholeheartedly that the selections are made well in advance of the actual tryouts. I have seen players selected without attending any, or all, of the tryout sessions. I have seen amazing performances during the tryout sessions, but not witnessed by the coaches/ selection committee, because their attention was focused somewhere else. I have seen players from predominately one school/team selected, mainly because their coaches were on the selection committee. I have seen players selected because their parents have a close relationship with the coaches. Once the athletes see what is going on, they may be reluctant to try out again. I don't know why players chosen in prior years do not always try out again, It could be, because of the cost. After all, not only are you paying for the athlete, but the parents will occur additional costs if they want to travel to the tournaments. My child has participated in the tryouts for past 4 years and will be there again this year.

      1. If there are approximately 100 kids trying out for a few of the teams and you are given 2 - 3 two hour tryouts on a given weekend it becomes almost impossible to evaluate everyone. Most coaches will go with the ones that they already know and hope some others standout. Maybe Basketball Manitoba should run them as regionals or something like that and invite some to the main camp. Easier to evaluate that way I believe. There will always be some kids that are hurt or away on other trips during the one tryout weekend. If they miss that first weekend then maybe bring them to the other regional tryout. Just a thought.


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