Rhonda Lee McIsaac —
As the girls stand huddled, elbow to elbow, coach Gidin Jaad Erica Ryan-Gagne encourages them to keep up their good hard work! This is a young team, ages 10-14, competing at the Junior All Native Basketball Tournament in Williams Lake. It is evident from the expression on her face that she cares deeply about the team and about each player’s performance.
As coaches; Gidin Jaad and Wade Collinson, have pressed these young girls to play their best, to not give up and to play fair.
“We are so invested in [the team]” stresses Gidin Jaad citing coaches, parents and community as being vital to the team’s success.
“They are young and the goal is to keep them together through the years, developing them as individuals and as a team”. Gidin Jaad hopes to “inspire an older group of girls” to round out the team as they advance.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are; how good you are. You practice and fundraise and then you can play,” states Gidin Jaad.
“Practise and fundraising is not optional,” exclaimed Gidin Jaad The girls collected and recycled bottles and cans, did sweat equity to acquire Gwaii Trust funds, volunteered at community events, sold raffle tickets and had bake sales.
“The community, I feel, is proud of them and how hard they work,” says Gidin Jaad of the team. This was evident in the stands at Williams Lake with cheering fans and Facebook posts motivating the players from Haida Gwaii.
Already looking to next year the team is back practising. Gidin Jaad hopes to “designate two point guards to direct the team’s offense on the court and to continue developing ball handling skills. We want to practise the full court press break, ball movement and patience”.
“Soon [other teams] will wonder what is in the water in Skidegate!” she says, as a smile crosses her face. Next year, the Junior Saints girls head to Kelowna.
“The organization of women’s basketball in Skidegate has begun. There’s a lot of talent here, between the girls and ladies. We can’t wait to see a successful women’s team in the future.” – Coach Collinson