NORTH DELTA — They say that silence is deafening, and in perhaps the cruelest of ways, that was the auditory state most common among both high school basketball players and their coaches as each began 2021 by walking into gymnasiums normally teeming with the activity of a season in progress.
“We all realized that last Wednesday was supposed to be the first day of our 12-team tournament and that we should have all been playing,” remarked Matt McKay, the head coach of the senior boys varsity at North Delta’s Sands Secondary.
Indeed, last weekend had been traditionally been reserved for the Sands Hilltop Invitational, yet the pandemic’s wrath had rendered the Scorpions’ gymnasium silent, just as it had for Terry Fox’s Legal Beagle and the grand-daddy of them: St. Thomas More Collegiate’s Chancellor Invitational.
McKay, however, is not sitting on his hands and allowing adversity to have free reign over a time that is normally the most exciting stretch of the basketball season.
Instead, he’s reached out to the North American coaching fraternity and begun an ambitious 10-week project he has logically titled the Sands Basketball Online Coaching Clinic Series.
The series, which actually began this past Sunday via the Zoom platform, will continue with nine more virtual clinics, covering a host of topics, all of which are offered completely free of charge.
“It’s just a way to keep connected with other coaches and think about some other things while we have this break,” says McKay, who before re-vitalizing the Sands program as a Quad-A entity, served as the head coach of the boys senior varsity at both North Delta and Delta secondaries, the city’s two oldest high schools.
“Normally it’s go, go, go from the time the season starts, into your off-season skill stuff, so to be able to step back and look at what you do as a program… seeing where you can change or where you can grow has been pretty valuable for those of us who have taken the time to do so,” adds McKay.
This past Sunday, the series welcomed Brant Minor, an assistant coach with Forest Grove Oregon’s NCAA Div. 3 Pacific Boxers, who spoke on a version of the hyper-tempo offence which McKay himself helped coach as an assistant under former head man James Blake at Simon Fraser.
The rest of this month’s roster: Jan. 17 UNBC men’s head coach Todd Jordan on ball-screen offence; Jan. 24 Langara men’s head coach Paul Eberhardt on COVID-19 safe skill development; Jan. 31 Willamette head coach Kip Ioane on ‘Words Matter’.
February confirmations include: Feb. 7 College of Idaho men’s head coach Colby Blaine (topic TBA); Feb. 8 VIU head men’s coach Matt Kuzminski on applying positive psychology concepts to your program; Feb. 28 Ottawa head men’s coach James Derouin on introducing analytics to your coaching philosophy.
Coaches are being finalized for Feb. 21, March 7 and March 14 sessions, and McKay says that depending on demand and circumstance, the series could resume again in the spring.
The full schedule, as it is being updated, as well as registering for whichever free clinics you wish to connect with, are available by clicking here.
“They can click on the (select a date) button and register ahead of time,” instructs McKay of what to do once they reach the event’s website. “I can send the Zoom link out to them on the weekend of (their requested clinic(s).”
McKay is hopeful that the roster of coaches and the topics they will present will resonate with coaches at every level of the game from beginner to advanced and thus encourages all to take part.
Specifically, Eberhardt’s session on COVID-19 safe skill development is sure to check every coach’s list of ‘essential’ during these challenging times.
“We just talked about some ideas of what he would be interested in, and Paul kind of hit on that topic as something he was starting to deal with, with their kids out in the West Van district,” said McKay of Eberhardt who in addition to leading the Langara men, is the vice principal for the West Van School District’s Premier Academies. “And we both thought it would be a really useful thing to share with the coaches.”
McKay, who has also worked at the CCAA level as a head coach having formerly led the now-defunct Kwantlen Eagles PacWest women’s team in Surrey, has been touched by the outpouring of support the Sands Basketball Online Coaching Series has received from coaches across the continent.
“It’s always kind of humbling how giving our coaches are, in our community here in B.C. and across Canada and the U.S., with their time, with their ideas and with their energy,” says McKay.
“Everyone has other things they can be doing with their time, and they are willing to give that time to grow the game… to make the game here in B.C. better.”
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