Youth basketball program inspires

Year three of Hope's Steve Nash Youth Basketball program commences.

Coaches Jeff and Madison Kuhn

Year three of Hope’s Steve Nash Youth Basketball program will build on the successesof previous years — especially if parents and students respond with good registration numbers,” said organizer Jeff Kuhn.

The group is presently in registration mode, looking for boys and girls from grades 4 to 7. March 18 is the final day for forms to be handed in at any of the school offices inHope. You can also contact Kuhn via phone at 604-869-6492 or download a form from facebook.com/groups/HopeSNYB/.

For the $60 fee, a player gets seven weeks of practices and games — all at Hope Secondary — as well as a Steve Nash reversible jersey, a drawstring bag, a basketball, a Basketball BC membership card and liability insurance coverage.

For families short on funds, scholarships can be arranged through Kuhn.

“I think we’re at around ten signed up so far, which is a good start, as we usually have most of the registrations come in during the last week,” said Kuhn on Monday.

“We had 39 kids in the first year and last year we topped out at 52. We’re hoping for 60-plus this year. Last year, we had enough boys for a grade 4-5 group and a grade 6-7 group. The girls were all grouped together and we didn’t have many grade seven girls,” said Kuhn, the lead pastor at Grace Baptist Church.

“We made presentations at the monthly assemblies at Coquihalla and Silver Creek in February,” added Kuhn. “We brought in two girls and three guys from Hope Secondary, showed some drills and got some kids involved. It was a lot of fun.

“One shift this year is that we are adapting some practice plans from Allison Mc-Neill (Olympics women’s coach) that everyone will use,” added Kuhn. “We have a set for Grade 4-5 and a set for grade 6-7. This will allow us to have a consistent focus on skill development for each team, and will also help us to build skills systematically instead of just doing whatever the individual coaches want to focus on.

“Allison and her husband Mike aren’t available to come up this year — but we will meet as coaches and walk through the practice curriculum,” said Kuhn.

The HSS Mustang girls’ head coach is excited about bringing a new tool to Hope, to help shooters with their accuracy. The Shootaway 8000 shooting machine can work with up to five shooters at a time, tossing out balls like a baseball pitching machine, at 3, 5, or 10-second intervals.

Shooters who work on their own can get a print-out of their accuracy during their session.

“Agassiz brought one in this season and it looked like a gimmick to me when I first saw it,” said Kuhn. “But it seems to work. They beat us by 6 or 7 in our first game and by the end of the season, they beat us by about 30 and went on to place tenth at the single-A provincials. They were last in our conference last year, so their shooting has definitely improved.

“In ten minutes, you can have two kids on there and they can get 200 shots off. The repetitions pay off — and the netting in front forces you to shoot with an arc. A lot of players shoot flat.”

By cruel coincidence, the dollar exchange rate has put the cost of the Shootaway 8000 up to about $8,000 Cdn — but local funding has provided over half of the goal so far.

“Hope Steve Nash Youth Basketball put in $2,000 and we also got help from the HSS parent advisory council and the senior teams fundraising,” said Kuhn. “Hope Drive-in, Hope Brewing, Hope Eagles and Valley Helicopters have also helped out.

“I’m encouraged that we’ve gotten so much already,” added Kuhn. “Our community is so good for lending its support.”

Kuhn hopes to be able to bring the machine to town by June. It would be housed at the high school and could be used in gym class as well as for team practices.

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