This is the second year of junior high basketball at Smith School.
When the teams started up last year, it had been around 10 years since there had been a basketball team, says Smith School principal Caitlynn Chernish. This year, there are more kids involved and the teams are stronger.
There are 11 boys and nine girls from Grade 7 to 9 on the teams. Smith school only goes up to Grade 9.
Bryce Marshall organized both teams and is coaching the boys.
“They (the basketball players) love to learn new things,” says Marshall.
“They didn’t have much basketball knowledge before. I taught them how to properly do a layup.”
“Athletics was a big part of my life growing up,” says Marshall. “That was my fun thing to do.”
He played hockey from aged four to 23, basketball from Grade 6 to 12, badminton from Grade 7 to 12, and other sports.
Kailey Lebsack coaches the girls. In the past, she played and coached hockey, volleyball, and soccer. She’s “dabbled into all the sports,” except basketball.
“The rules are different, but the coaching strategies seem to be the same,” she says.
School sports help keep kids healthy and active, says Marshall.
“It (school sports) brings a sense of community,” Lebsack says. “It teaches leadership skills. It gives them some pride.”
At a team meeting, the girl’s basketball team decided to add a second practice each week and practice during recess, says Lebsack.
Lebsack teaches Kindergarten and Grade 1.
The younger kids were sad that basketball was just for the big kids, so the school added fun basketball for K to 3.
There are also a few Grade 6 girls who are interested in coming to practice to learn, so they’ll be ready for next year when they can join.
Basketball practice started after November break. Smith started competing in tournaments the second week in January. So far they’ve competed in two. One in Vilna and the other in Boyle.
The teams left for the tournaments at 6:30 a.m., played six games then came home. One of the teams at one of the tournaments was a mixed team.
The hoops and the asphalt outdoor basketball court are good enough for practice, but Smith can’t hold tournaments. One of Smith School’s basketball hoops isn’t in the right place. It would cost upwards of $20,000 to fix.
Smith has archery and is adding other sports. In the fall, Marshall coached a soccer team at the school. He’s interested in coaching badminton, if there’s interest in spring 2020.
Lebsack would be interested in coaching volleyball next year, if there’s enough interest at the school.