Although Chris Terris will not attribute it directly to what Lake City Basketball has accomplished over the past two years, the sport is starting to show gains in popularity in the city and player development.
“There are a couple of things that are factors, and I can’t say what we have done alone has translated to this, but take a look at how the Summerland junior girls school program did this year and the Penticton Secondary School junior girls — both were top 15 programs in the province. Penticton just came back from provincials and Summerland had a very strong season,” said Lake City Basketball director Terris, as the club basketball program prepares for tryouts for their third season. “If you look at our largest group of kids last year that was at that age, the under-15 programs. We had two boys and two girls teams.”
Tryouts, which take place March 12 and 14 for the girls and March 13 and 15 for the boys, already have 100 athletes registered. It is not their only mandate to promote the skill level of players and help them develop a better understanding of the game. Terris said a big part is to promote the sport in the South Okanagan.
“We want to get more kids interested in basketball. There are the obvious health pluses and then we hope it also translates to more kids interested in playing in their school programs. We have a good group of younger kids in Grade 7 and Grade 8 that had a lot of success in their school programs this year and it is really neat to see them come back and continue to improve.”
Which could translate to more student-athletes pursuing their dreams in post-secondary as well.
“That is another neat component. We have some successful student-athletes that are playing basketball at the college and university level and they are joining us to give back by coaching this year,” said Terris.
That includes University of Victoria Vikes player Lyndzie Caron and Vancouver Island University Mariners player Emily Clarke among a few others who are playing at the college/university level.
“It will be really great for the kids to be coached by these local players who have gone on to a higher level and see what could be their future,” said Terris.
With more coaches coming on board from different school programs and from the Oliver and Osoyoos area, Terris said the players will learn from a wide base of backgrounds. Once the team rosters are chosen, the squads will continue to practice through the spring and travel to tournaments. Penticton will play host to both a girls and boys tournament in late April.
Terris said they envision satellite programs in the future to accommodate kids who live in Oliver and Osoyoos and might not be able to commit to travelling twice a week to Penticton to practice.