By Sam Cortes, Communications Coordinator
Basketball Manitoba is eager to kickstart the journey to Niagara, beginning with their Provincial Team Identification Camps later this month!
Get all the details on the camp and more right here, including tips and advice for future Team Toba basketball athletes from Head Coaches Alyssa Cox and Jonathan Janzen, and Basketball Manitoba Executive Director Adam Wedlake.
As of August 6, we’re officially one year out from the Canada Summer Games. Basketball Manitoba is more than ready to get back on the court and take the first steps to building the team who will represent Manitoba in Niagara.
“Typically, we would have had provincial team training all throughout the summer starting at the end of May. With the way restrictions went, that wasn’t possible,” said Alyssa Cox, Head Coach of Team Manitoba Female Basketball.
The tryouts will now be held at Sport Manitoba from August 13-15, led by the Provincial Team Head Coaches and their coaching staff.
“We encourage everybody that is age eligible that is interested in cracking a Team Manitoba spot next summer [to register]. We’re going to run three teams: 15U, 17U, and 18U — 18U being the Canada Games [team],” said Adam Wedlake, Basketball Manitoba Executive Director.
A training group of 20 athletes per team will be selected from the tryouts. From there, the athletes will participate in a two-week (10 sessions) training camp with their provincial team coaches from August 23-27 and August 30- September 3, 2021.
“It will be good to get an idea to see where they are. I’m going to get together with my coaching staff and we’re going to go over what we want to see out of them,” said Jonathan, Head Coach for Team Manitoba Male Basketball.
Ahead of the camps, Alyssa will be doing the same with her staff, too.
“Our goal as the coaching staff is to make sure they leave that camp with a good understanding of what we want to see in our style of play, and some of the things that they can continue to work on through their club season and their school seasons in the winter and spring,” said Alyssa.
Tryouts for the final team to compete at the Canada Summer Games will take place at the end of May next year.
Advice to Future Team Toba Athletes: Gain Perspective, Take it Slow, Stay Focused
It’s been quite a while since basketball athletes have been able to get in the gym to train, play, or compete as a group.
Hearing of athlete injuries upon returning to sport has reminded Adam that an important piece of advice is to ease into the process, rather than rush back into it.
“That shows that players are coming back from this long period of inactivity, and maybe going too hard, too fast,” said Adam. “It’s keeping yourself on the court mainly with the mindset of staying in shape and away from injury.”
Over the next year, Alyssa wants the athletes to stay focused, motivated, and driven to improve, and agrees with Adam to be cautious in avoiding injuries.
“This year has been a different experience for athletes in that they don’t necessarily have a lot of direct contact with their coaches, who would normally be [planning] programming for them and planning practices. So I think it takes a really motivated athlete to continue training and developing through that. And now that we’re starting to be able to get back on the court, I think it’s about starting where you are, not putting yourself at risk of injury, and really trying to make the most of this year of development and try to catch back up and get ready for the games,” said Alyssa.
The pandemic has also shown athletes, and all those involved in sport, to not take opportunities for granted.
“It kind of reminds you that life can change at any point,” said Jonathan. “My advice is to take advantage of that. Use the time now, so you can look back and be like, ‘You know what, I did the best that I could and I put in the work’, and that’s something you can be proud of when you get to display it and showcase it on a big stage.”
Adam recalls when the Canada Summer Games were hosted in Winnipeg. Positive energy and excitement filled the air, streets, and venues, invigorating Manitoba athletes and opening their eyes to what a special event the games really are.
Adam hopes that even though it’s been a few years since the last games, they can continue building off that momentum.
“It’s [also] the off-court stuff. It’s having the opportunity for a young player to interact with other sports — getting out and waving the Team Toba banner, showing that provincial pride that, when we’re usually at our own national championships, you’re the team, you don’t have that chance to step back and reflect and see that you’re a part of a bigger experience. I really think that’s what’s unique,” said Adam.
Jonathan, who also coached the 15U boys team two years ago, hopes that leading up the games, he can prepare his athletes for the enjoyable journey to competition.
“I’m looking forward to just being part of a team and that atmosphere. I’ve missed that over the last year or so. And I hope that, if things get to a point where we can do some of the normal stuff we have in the past, where we can do that team building, that team bonding. That’s always fun, because the journey along the way is quite enjoyable as well, and seeing the progress and seeing the growth,” said Jonathan.
Alyssa coached the girl’s team at the last Canada Games and recalls the memorable atmosphere.
“[I’m looking forward to] being onsite with athletes from all different sports, having the chance to watch a variety of events, and compete in front of different crowds of people. It’s a really exciting experience,” said Alyssa.
She also hopes the athletes take away a sense of the level of play in their sport across Canada.
“Most of the athletes who compete on provincial teams and our Canada Games pool have aspirations to play university or beyond that, and I think this experience is often a good measuring stick for those kids,” said Alyssa.
As with all sports, those friendships that are built and strengthened during the games process can last a lifetime.
“The friendships that you build when you’re playing on a team with other athletes like yourself, who are so motivated and so invested in basketball, or whatever their sport is — that’s something I hope that they can build and continue even beyond our competitive season,” said Alyssa.