Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Dustin Cook

NEW SKILLS – First-time head coach Claire Abbott is building a team of 10 for the Arctic Winter Games girl’s basketball team. There will be a second trial session Dec. 9-10 at F.H. Collins Secondary School.

Dribbling towards the Arctic Winter Games

Before the high school basketball season takes the court in Whitehorse,

By Dustin Cook on November 14, 2017

Before the high school basketball season takes the court in Whitehorse, trials are underway for the Arctic Winter Games girl’s team under a new coach.

Whitehorse native Claire Abbott recently returned after playing university basketball in Ontario with the Nipissing University Lakers.

Before she moved to Ontario towards the end of high school, Abbott played on Team Yukon at the U15 nationals. She also represented the territory at the Canada Games and the Western Canada Games in the sport.

This won’t be her first time going to the Arctic Winter Games either, but not for the same sport.

Abbott played table tennis at the 2006 Arctic Winter Games and took home a bronze medal with her partner Jada Powell in the juvenile female doubles competition. She took her past team experiences to the girl’s basketball trials this weekend at F.H. Collins Secondary School.

Through the early drills of the two and a half hour Sunday session, Abbott put a focus on communication and support between the team hopefuls.

She said to the players that basketball is all about communication and support and emphasized it’s importance even when you are most tired. There were 15 girls at the trial vying for a spot on the 10-person Arctic Winter Games roster.

“I think we’ve had decent attendance so far,” Basketball Yukon president Diedre Davidson said. “We’d really like to see more of the communities come.”

As the Games team is representing the Yukon, it is open to any girls in the territory born in 1999 or later.

To get the word out, Davidson said they have been working to promote through schools and the trial sessions are held on the weekend to be more accommodating.

“Basketball is a great sport for the communities. It’s inside. All you need is a pair of shoes and a ball, and hoops I guess,” Davidson said.

Abbott worked with the girls both Saturday and Sunday practicing dribbling drills, shooting skills and of course communicating.

Once the roster is finalized, Abbott said the team will head to Richmond, B.C. in January for a tournament together as a team before going to Northwest Territories for the Games.

A few of the girls at the trials were familiar faces as they were on the Yukon’s 2016 Games team in Greenland, Davidson said.

In 2016, the team finished the round robin with a win against Nunavut and two tough losses before losing a tight bronze medal game against Nunavut 60-53.

Alaska, who Davidson said always fields a very strong team, won the tournament.

The first-time coach Abbott was coached by Davidson growing up, and Davidson is confident in the new coach’s abilities taking this team to the Games.

“Claire is a wonderful coach and an awesome athlete,” she said.

There is another trial session Dec. 9-10 for the girl’s team at F.H. Collins. The boy’s team will only have one weekend of trials Dec. 2-3.

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