The Western Canada Summer Games are over for another four years. The girls’ basketball team played in the first phase of the Games.
Although the team went 0-5, coach Claire Abbott said it was a valuable learning experience for a young group of players. Before each game, Abbott said the team honed in on a goal to accomplish.
“Each game we focused on a goal and the players had their own individual goals,” said Abbott.
“Overall it was great for growth. It was amazing to watch them start embodying it every day.
“A lot of girls set individual goals and they didn’t always reach them but they are on the right track.”
Abbott noted that one of the individual goals set by a player was to become a more vocal leader. Abbott said she could see the progression of that goal coming to fruition over the tournament.
Before the team left for Swift Current, Sask., Abbott said they did a lot of preparation both mental and physical before they stepped on the court to compete.
“We asked the girls what they think a championship team looks like,” said Abbott. “What is the team’s energy like? What is the team’s energy like on the bench when things are good and bad? And, Where are we getting that energy?”
Some of the girls had very little basketball experience and Abbott said it was interesting to watch them develop from the ground up.
Abbott said the girls are beginning to fall for the sport and during the summer that was something they put emphasis on.
“We taught them skills off the court,” said Abbott. “A big thing is to perform under pressure and self-love. We tried to build them a toolbox of resources they can use on the court and also in life.”
Abbott said girls basketball isn’t where it should be yet but there is a plan in place.
“The hope is to target players in elementary school,” said Abbott, “and have them fall in love with the sport early. The goal is to build them a fundamental foundation like footwork, speed, agility, which they can translate to other sports.”
For the older girls who are well into their basketball careers, Abbott said it is important to give them more access to resources.
“Coming from a small town there are not many role models,” said Abbott. “Girls are looking further and how to get them access to training camps.”
Before the Games, Abbott and two players travelled Outside to participate in a camp.
Abbott believes the young players who may not have found the sport yet will have a great group of role models in the WCSG team.
“They were a great group of girls to coach,” said Abbott. “As individuals, they were self-motivated and receptive.”
The next multi-sports games the girl’s basketball team will be competing in are the Arctic Winter Games in March 2020 in Whitehorse.
The Arctic Winter Games will bring international athletes from the circumpolar north to the territory and are held every two years. It is the 50th anniversary of the Games and the 25th time they will have been played.
Abbott who believed the team started to come together in Swift Current will see lots of success at Arctics.
“The Arctic Winter Games will be a good building block for them,” she said.
Abbott, who has lived in Whitehorse for three years, will not be coaching the Arctics team because she will be heading to England to play professional ball. She played varsity hoops at Nipissing University and Algonquin College in Ontario.
While in England she will also be coaching and said the Western Canada Summer Games gave her a different perspective.
She said since she hasn’t played as much and has done primarily coaching she put herself back in the shoes of the athletes.
“I am looking forward to someone coaching me again,” said Abbott.