The Central Alberta Basketball Club (CABC) continues to develop the fundamental skills necessary in players to ensure that Central Alberta becomes a future powerhouse in provincial basketball. Recently, both the Mountainview and Red Deer Clubs took part in the Shooting Stars Tournament in Calgary.
“All the teams did really well,” CABC President and RDC Queens’ Coach Ken King said. “It is a little bit of different tournament, it is more like teams playing a bunch of games. There isn’t a winner or a loser. Some of our flagship teams like our U-17 Boys from Red Deer went 3-0 and performed really well against some well established teams from Calgary and Edmonton. Our U-17 Girls from Red Deer had a great showing as well. On the Mountainview side, this is some of the best games that they get over their year of basketball and we saw continued improvement from both the boys and girls.”
Tournaments like the Shooting Stars is part of an overall development strategy intended to grow the club program in Central Alberta.
“When we talk about club programs in Red Deer, the opportunities if you are a volleyball athlete or hockey athlete are massive,” King explained. “For a long time on the basketball side, we have struggled to compete with those sports development systems. The goal is to get more kids playing basketball in order to grow our system to the calibre we see in other sports in the region.”
King noticed a need for skill development in basketball after he arrived at Red Deer College three years ago.
“The biggest trend I’ve seen in youth in my three years working at the College is that their fundamental base is lacking,” he said. “One of the biggest shifts we are trying to make in the basketball community is that practices are now the primary focus. Games are just the cherry on top.”
Players during their regular school season tend to practice less intense in order to accommodate the heavy game schedule. Club ball allows players to polish their skills through repetition.
“The practices are now coached by college athletes and college coaches and that is where they will build your game and grow into a basketball player,” King said. “They will be able to showcase that in games. At this time of year we practice more then we play games, specifically for the reason we want these kids to understand competition is great but practice is where they will grow.”
King noted that players from different schools playing together in club ball builds a culture of basketball in Central Alberta.
“We are running with the hashtag #growingtheca,” he said. “The basketball community exists and now we are seeing girls and guys play with each other they usually play against throughout the year. On the girls’ side we are seeing girls look forward to their club season because they play with girls they haven’t played with since the year before. That culture and community continues to grow and this year we have over 150 kids in the CABC.”
King said the program’s success is directly related to coaching – something that needs to remain consistent.
“The big thing for the future is retention and especially coach retention,” he said. “We really try to get athletes that are born and raised in the area to get back involved with coaching once they are finished with club. They can give back and stay involved with their sports community.”
King sees a bright future for Central Alberta basketball as long as athletes buy-in.
“As kids’ mindsets change to focus on growth as an outcome, we will see some serious basketball development,” he said, adding that he can see the results first hand of the program from his position at RDC.
“We are looking at our U-17 Girls team that are graduating. I’m excited to pull a major chunk of that team straight into the college program, which is something we have never done on the women’s basketball side at Red Deer College.”