On Saturday, October 15th, the WMBA Anniversary Committee will be hosting Hoopfest for fall registrants at the Sport Manitoba Courts for youth ages 11 and under.  This day is fun-filled for our youth which will be a great kick-off for fall league play.  The history of HoopFest can be found on our website at www.wmba25.ca.  

On Sunday, October 16th we plan to offer a skills competition for all our youth 12 and over divided into two groups representing our male and female athletes also at the Sport Manitoba Courts.  This is a new event for our league and we're hoping it will be well received and attended.  We will be modelling it off examples already established by others in the basketball community.  Again it will be a fun day for all participants in our league and a great kick-off for the fall season  More details will follow shortly.

The Basketball Manitoba Super Coaches Clinic is being held at the University of Manitoba on October 21st and 22nd.   We will be inviting a coach to speak who has participated in our league for many years and is now coaching at senior levels abroad.  Also, we will be asking a well-known representative from the University of Winnipeg to provide some history on the WMBA.

Please feel free to provide your input and suggestions on all of the events mentioned above.  As always we're looking for volunteers to assist at each event.  We will also promote this through the media and with potential sponsors.  I hope you will all join us in making this a memorable year for the WMBA and the youth in our community.  We are very proud of the contributions made by all our volunteers over the years and our 25th anniversary will be a great celebration recognizing these efforts.

Mike Ruta

WMBA 25th Anniversary Chair


The WMBA is pleased to announce the opening of its 25th-anniversary Facebook group page (WMBA 25th Anniversary 1997-2022).  The league welcomes contributions of videos, photos, and history to include on the pages together with ideas for its 25th-anniversary events it can host in celebration.  They are also looking to profile on this page of players, referees, coaches, organizers, convenors, and those who have contributed to basketball in Manitoba and elsewhere through their involvement with the WMBA.  

To kick things off, they have included some history of the WMBA and photos, which we hope to update regularly with contributions from everyone who has been involved in the league.  

Did you know, for example, that since its inception, over 20,000 youth have participated in the league?


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Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association (WMBA)
League History

Years 1-10 (1997-2007)

After 5 years living away in Victoria and Calgary, Mike Ruta returned with his family to Winnipeg in August 1997 but not before observing community basketball played in both cities.  Separate from high school and elite provincial basketball Victoria and Calgary had developed community programs for both male and female youth involving teams selected in community centres throughout each city.  Starting at age 5, teams were organized and played at local schools in one-hour intervals involving referees, gym supervisors, coaches and practices throughout the season ranging from October to April.

Before returning, Mike contacted Adam Wedlake, who was employed as program director at Basketball Manitoba.  Adam immediately took an interest in assisting with the concept of a community league, and Mike proceeded to contact 25 Winnipeg community centres to solicit their interest in setting up a league.  By September 1997, many community centres had committed to proceeding, including Burton Cummings, Chalmers, Fort Richmond, Gateway, Kelvin, River Heights, St. Norbert, Tyndall Park, Vince Leah, Lindenwoods, Fort Garry, Park City, Valley Gardens, Varsity View, Kirkfield Westwood, Dakota and Waverley Heights.  

Mike turned to founding members Dale Gamey (Waverley Heights), Jan Mashinter (now Jan Voss)(Valley Gardens), Lori Hiscock (Black) (Gateway), Larry Kabez (Vince Leah) and Adam Wedlake (Basketball Manitoba) to lead efforts throughout the city which included organizing board meetings, preparation of a constitution, schedules and contacting convenors and coaches to kick off the league.  Our convenors were many and involved vital members and supporters, including Doug Coates, who designed our logo, which endures today.  The first season 1997 to 1998, included 40 teams and increased each year to over 400 teams.  In 1998 the WMBA introduced a spring league running from April to June to complement our successful winter league offering. 

In 2006 the WMBA endorsed the formation of the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Foundation to finance, build, and maintain outdoor basketball facilities at community centres in major sections of Winnipeg.  To date, 6 outdoor courts were constructed with contributions from teams via a nominal player surcharge, contributions from the government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg and member community centres.  The courts were designed by Prairie Architects and constructed by Ted Fardoe through his company Canotech Consultants Ltd.  The first court completed was at Garden City Community Club in 2006 at around $110,000, and five others have since been constructed at Oxford Heights, Dakota, Kirkfield Westwood, Whyteridge and Central Corydon community centres.  The courts feature a solid aggregate base covered by a Mondo surface, sturdy hoops with plexiglass backboards, a fenced-in surface with lights to allow play in the early evening, and benches for player use, all built to withstand Winnipeg weather conditions.  The foundation also awards bursaries to both male and female youth who have participated in the league and desire to expand post-secondary education with continued involvement in basketball as players, coaches, referees or organizers.  

Also, in 2006, the WMBA received a grant from a Federal Health department to promote female involvement in basketball.  The grant gave rise to a program entitled "Girl – she got game," which was used in all community centres to promote participation in basketball through the WMBA.  At the same time, the WMBA introduced a coach of the year award modelled after the exemplary coaching of Bruce Russell, our first recipient.  Also, the WMBA conducts Hoopfest for all our younger youth participants who started early in our development and continue today.

Past Executive Directors of the WMBA included Adam Wedlake, Susie Laping, Lee Hurton, Darcy Coss and Sean Close, our current Executive Director  Also Past Presidents of the WMBA include Mike Ruta, Dwight MacNeil, Ted Fardoe and current president Terry Wolowiec  The WMBA is a non-profit organization that adopted a fair play policy since its inception.  Our coaches, convenors, Board of Directors are all volunteers.  Without the assistance of Bill Wedlake, who cast support to the WMBA by the University of Winnipeg through profiling the league throughout its early years, including a tournament for league teams at the Wesmen Classic, our referee assignor Reid Kenyon with the assistance of Neil Gottfried, who has served as our assignor for league games since inception, our founding members, Presidents and Board members and so many other dedicated volunteers the league would not evolve to the third largest community sports program in the city.

The mission of the WMBA is to provide a positive environment for all Winnipeg & surrounding area youth, coaches, referees and parents by promoting the sport of basketball through a community centre program.
Objectives of the WMBA:
  1. To provide a volunteer-based basketball league for Winnipeg & surrounding area youth to participate in.
  2. To foster and encourage personal and athletic growth, education and development of all players, coaches and officials who participate in our programs.
  3. To encourage equal participation and strong basketball values, such as teamwork and fair play within the Association.
  4. To encourage and promote volunteer involvement in basketball through the Association.
  5. To define, develop, and uphold the rules & regulations of basketball as adopted by this Association and ensure that participating community centres follow the rules, regulations, and procedures presented by the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres.
  6. To seek corporate and community support for the Association.

Years 11-20 (Years 2007- 2016)

Growing and developing was the mandate WMBA board for the next ten years.  The introduction of great programs such as Steve Nash Youth Basketball and the "Training Day" for grassroots coaches, as well as solid concepts such as fair play and zero-tolerance policies, are strong examples of initiatives the WMBA board implemented to promote and enhance the experience of players, coaches and parents.  In collaboration with Basketball Manitoba, the Training Day coaches clinic soon developed into the Super Coaches Clinic, which became the largest coaches clinic in the country.  Every fall, the Super Coaches Clinic remains a landmark opportunity for local coaches of all youth basketball levels. 

In 2007 FIBA rules were adopted by the country's governing bodies of basketball.  The WMBA also adopted these rules for our leagues with appropriate modifications to suit youth skills and abilities. 
The WMBA foundation in 2008 announced the award of the third outdoor basketball court to the Dakota Community Club.  The court was completed and opened officially in August of 2009.  
To meet the demands of the competitive club basketball development, the Rising Stars League was also developed for ages 12-15 in 2008.  The popularity of this league necessitated the introduction of a qualifying tournament for the 2009 fall season. 

At most board meetings, a recurring theme and discussion were "how can the WMBA attract participants at the youngest age groups and maintain them year over year.  There were great concepts such as HoopFest, the Christmas Wesmen Classic tournament; however, we wanted more athletes in our leagues.   In 2010, the WMBA secured its first corporate sponsor to offer youth basketball leagues to the introductory ages 5-7 years at a significantly reduced fee.  Denny's Restaurants was our title sponsor for the youth basketball programs.  In cooperation with our member community clubs, this subsidy initiative has proved very successful for the 5-7-year-old divisions for many years.  We considered this initiative an opportunity for families to provide affordable playing opportunities while introducing their children to our great game.

 In 2012 as part of the league's mandate to increase and provide quality programming, we ventured forward to deliver pilot projects based on the new 3x3 concept.  The first was a 3 on 3 league for 6-8-year-olds, where the available court time and the ability for coaches to instruct athletes increased significantly.  The second initiative was a 3x3 summer league on the WMBA foundations outdoor court facilities for boys and girls between 15 and 18 years.  

In 2011 the Community Wesmen Classic tournament had run its course with the loss of the title sponsor and subsequent loss of support from the hosting facility.  In 2012 the league rebranded with the "Winnipeg Sun 3 on 3 Classic Tournament" The tournament was based on the 3x3 play format emulating the future Olympic sport. 

Through the growth of the league over the years and the numbers of teams competing for practice gym time,  issues became apparent not so much for gameplay however for practice times for all teams.  Many discussions regarding the requirements associated with Sport Canada's Long Term Athlete Development model.  The league's community club convenors and league coordinators worked tirelessly to build teams across clubs and share gym times as best as possible.  By 2012 numerous new community club gymnasiums had been developed in the city, and the practice time pressures were alleviated; these quality venues were also utilized as game-day facilities. 

In 2012 -13 we noticed a decline in girls' participation in the league.  In 2013 we welcomed Suki Choeun to the board as the Director of Women's Programming.  The "Girls Can Play" initiative successfully attracted 190 participants to well-organized fun-based skill camps.  Of the 190 girls attending these camps, 150 were first-time participants in basketball.  The WMBA moved forward with a new program for 5-7-year-old boys and girls this same year.  The Jr NBA program was a 12-week skill and fun-based development camp that followed the Canada Sport for Life guidelines and Canada Basketball athlete development pathways.  The first-year pilot had four community clubs run the program for 80 athletes.  The NBA facilitates a separate coaches clinic for all coaches involved with the program.  These great programs carried on for numerous years.

2014 saw the installation of the final court in the WMBA Foundation mandate to provide one facility in each of our six districts started approximately 12 years previous.  It is an excellent achievement of the WMBA  Foundation to see through the installation of one of these outstanding outdoor facilities in each of our original Districts.  Installations were provided to the following community centers that have been the benefactors of this program.  Garden City Community Club, Whyte Ridge Community Club, Dakota Community Club, Kirkfield  Westwood Community Club, Oxford Heights Community Club, Corydon Community Center.  

2015 and 2016 maintaining the provision of great programming as noted above.  The elite arm of the league rebranded from Rising Stars to the Manitoba Basketball League, attracting 29 teams in its first season.  The WMBA leagues continue as Manitoba's largest basketball league with the work of club conveners, coordinators, gym supervisors, referees, coaches and of course, athletes. 

More information on the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association can be found at http://www.wmba.ca.

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