The commish says too high Dez, others watch in awe
Northern News Services
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE- The Yellowknife Basketball Association's (YBA) season tips off tonight at Sir John with the popularity of one league running high.
The women's league has increased to four teams from two last year.
"The people that are running the women's league did a really good job," said Damien Healy, YBA's commissioner.
Promotion of the league around town wound up with 38 women signing up for this season.
Yellowknife Basketball Association commissioner Damien Healy scoops in for a lay-up at a pick-up game last Sunday. The YBA season tips off the evening, with four women's and five men's teams. - Herb Mathisen/NNSL photo
"Hopefully, the momentum will last," he said.
The men's league is down from six teams to five this year, after one team folded. Players from that squad were absorbed by the remaining teams in the league.
To protect against having squads unable to reliably field rosters the entire season, a draft was held at the YBA's annual general meeting to balance teams.
"The league is better when all the teams are pretty much parallel," he said, adding he wanted to develop rivalries within the league.
Healy said the numbers in the men's league may be down because a lot of players leave the city in the winter for school.
However, that does not mean the game isn't strong in Yellowknife.
Lately, Healy has noticed players have been returning from school and are taking an interest in growing the sport in the city and across the NWT.
"I've been at it long enough that I see a lot of kids finishing school and then coming back," he said.
Brendan Callas, for example, recently graduated from Acadia and is now back in Yellowknife refereeing games and coaching teams. He is also running the Steve Nash Youth Basketball program in the city.
Healy, who is also the president of Basketball NWT, said that program is a feeder system for the youth high-performance teams.
Healy said there is still time for players to find a team for the upcoming season.
"Usually, every year we will get four or five guys who drop their name on the website," he said.
The commissioner said one of the perks of his job is scooping up the new talent - preferably former university or college players now working in the city.
"The other guys have to starve in the minor leagues for a while before getting a shot with the big club" he joked.
The league plans to host two tournaments this year: The Arctic Shoot Out in April and a Christmas tournament in December.
At an open-gym session at William McDonald school Sunday night, 10 eager players came out for some pick-up ball to get in some last minute shots before the real games began.
Tyler Wells, who played for the Hot Shots team last year, said his team was going to look a lot different this year.
"We lost everybody but me," he said. "It's a re-building year."
Omar Ashley, a second-year player in the YBA who is playing on a new team this year, said he wanted to improve on his previous team's third place finish last year.
Wells later threw out a challenge: he said he was going to lead the league in scoring this year.
"I don't know if you want to be doing that," responded Healy.
"That's locker room poster material."
Healy responded to Wells in an interview Monday.
"Two words: Cory Taylor," he said. "As long as he's playing, he's going to win it."
With games four nights a week, Healy encouraged hoops fans to come out and support the league.
"We are always looking for fans, but we never get any," he said.