Words from Coach de Vries:
Parents; thank you! Driving kids to practice and back, and weekends, watching, and cheering, bleacher butt and all. For the inevitable consoling, explaining, listening, and guiding that is part of being a parent, but maybe moreso if your child plays sports. Thank you parents!
Spirits, the unseen; thank you! Erin, Dylan, Mitch, Sara, sponsors, fellow coaches, and any others I have surely missed. For support without glory. Thank you!
Rachel, my most worthy fellow coach; thank you! For your time, and teaching, and calm in my storm, for understanding these girls when all is foggy to me. Thank you!
Spirits….don’t let Rachel get too busy for basketball. She is a positive force for this club.
In our first team meeting I explained how easy my job as coach was. Just three simple tenets:
RESPECT the game and all associated with it.
BE BETTER. Strive to help everyone who wants it – including me – to be better at basketball.
YOUR TEAM. This is your team girls and all the opportunity and responsibility that comes with that. Rachel and I will work hard to get you to where you want to go with basketball but this is your team.
And what a team it has become!
Started off in Pool D of OBL. Winning all games by too much. Then to Pool C, where we easily belonged, playing better teams but still mostly winning. Tournaments gave us better competition, better learning opportunities, and more team confidence. Our 59 – 33 gold medal win over Kingston (a Pool B team) in the IEM tournament gave us a real glimpse of possibilities. In Durham, early April, we had two very tenacious wins over Barrie and Durham, again putting us in the gold game. Thunder Bay beat us by 3 points, but, given our injuries and a few bad bounces, we were right with them the whole game.
This team has an identity and, as a group, they embraced that identity. First and foremost, defense. Everyone, everywhere, always. Pesky, persistent, patient, always an attitude that it is our ball and we are coming to get it! Relentless defence. Then rebounding. We grew from hands in the air hoping for the ball to owning space on the floor, securing rebounds, and push, push, push, in transition. These girls figured out who they were, who they could be, as a team. And stuck to it. Believed it.
As a team we learned several different motion and zone offense strategies. When something wasn’t working the girls would themselves initiate a change in our offense. Seeing the game! So amazing to witness.
CHAMPIONS, GOLD MEDAL, POOL 1 OBA CUP. CHAMPIONS! Below OBLX your U16 girls are the best in the province for OBA.
Eighteen days after the gold medal game and I still pinch myself with that reality.
How? We lost our first game to Kingston by one point. What a battle. Win or lose those are the games that build character, and show character. Onward. Defeated Kitchener by 11 points, then a rematch with Thunder Bay. As a coach I hope to teach enough so that I can get out of the way and let the girls play. Certainly the case in this game. These girls were simply not going to lose this one. Thirteen point victory. Into gold game vs Barrie. We went down 10 – 2 very early, but again, credit to this group, they pivoted their approach and got it back, one basket at a time. Five point victory in the end against a very worthy adversary.
Sport can build memories. For life. This season can be a life memory for you girls. For Avery, Carys, Emery, Grace, Hannah, Lou, Mak, Nyomi, Samantha, and Syrena. Embrace it! Enjoy it! Build forward from it!
Thank you girls! For all this season has been. Thank you!