GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Three generations of coaches took to the bench to lead the Grade 8 girls’ basketball team at Exploits Valley Intermediate (EVI) in Grand Falls-Windsor this season.
The three different perspectives, with decades separating them, brought home gold from the NL Basketball Association’s West Coast Grade 8 championship hosted in Summerford.
Wendy Power was only knee-high to a grasshopper when she started helping her dad, Randy Edison, coach basketball in the mid-1980s.
“Not even just tournaments but practices and everything,” Power said. “I was there drawing up plays on scraps of paper.”
Edison also coached Power’s basketball teams to provincial tournaments.
When Power’s son Brett was pre-Kindergarten – the same age she was when she started playing the sport – he picked up the ball as well, and hasn’t put it down since.
Now, it has all come full circle as the three generations are coaching a team together.
Brett, who is in Grade 9 at EVI, heard the Grade 8 girls’ team didn’t have a coach this year because the gym teacher moved to another school.
Brett wanted to give it a try but wasn’t allowed to coach the team alone.
“I know Pop already coached a lot of teams before so I asked him to take over as head coach,” he said.
Brett’s mom got onboard as well.
It took the three of them to accomplish it as Brett wasn’t allowed in the gym without an adult and commitments sometimes took one of the adults away.
“That might have been one of the reasons that it worked so well, because I have a completely different outlook than what (dad) does and what (Brett) does,” Power said. “A basketball game looks different for the three of us. Brett goes to school with all the girls. Dad had never met most of them before and I knew some and some parents, so it was completely different outlooks.”
“And as a group too they really bought in to what we were doing,” Edison said.
More than 30 girls attended tryouts, indicating a lot of interest in the sport. The team has attended tournaments and played against stiffer competition, something the coaches say is important for growth.
The team saw that playing tougher teams teaches them what they have to do to get better. They focused on defence, which really helped in Summerford.
“They did great,” Brett said.
The team had two wins and a close loss to the host team in the round robin.
“That was an amazing game,” Edison said. “We were ahead probably 10-12 points in the fifth and final period and they came back and beat us 33-32 with a free-throw with around a minute left.”
The girls were disappointed with that loss but quickly recovered to win the final round-robin game against Gander.
“All year they were learning from every game we played,” Edison said, adding there was a lot of growth over the season.
The coaches challenged the players to use the disappointment from the loss as motivation, and they won the championship game by five or six points.
The Eagles’ Alyssa Manuel was selected as the tournament’s most spirited player, and the families in attendance were spirited, too – encouraging, cheering, and the dads even doing the wave.
“I’m very proud of my team, I think we did excellent and hopefully I was very supportive of them,” Manuel said. “We did fantastic this weekend and I’m very proud of us. Hopefully that showed through and that’s what got the award.”
The tournament was a great experience and fun for all parties, she added.
“It was great to meet some of the girls from other towns who played on other teams,” Manuel said. “Making new friends, that’s what it’s all about really.”
Manuel, 14, is in her second season of basketball.
Up until about last weekend she said the season wasn’t going too well, results-wise.
“Our team has worked very hard this past year but we didn’t exactly have the scores that we were hoping for,” Manuel said. “We had a season of losses up until provincials.
“All of our girls work very hard throughout practices. We always worked very hard during the games. It’s a great group of girls.”
The coaches are amazing, she added.
“They all kind of work together and they all have different skills and strengths and by coming together it really helps our team,” Manuel said. “I think we’ve done very great having them as coaches.”
This weekend was a confidence booster for the team.
“The wins for us have never really come easy,” Manuel said. “We’ve always had to work for our scores so it was great to have a few games where we actually got to see the results of the hard work that we put in.”
There was growth on the bench as well – another proud moment for Power and Edison.
“(Brett) got more confidence on Saturday actually coaching the girls,” Power said. “I think he was taking a lot of it in first but by the end of the day Saturday I heard him on the bench giving instruction, which he got more comfortable with.”
The whole experience was a great way to start a basketball coaching career, Brett said, especially with the ease of communication between the coaches.
“It was unique,” Brett said.
Though the provincial tournament is behind them, the team has a couple invitational tournaments left this season.
After this season, one thing is for sure.
“I would coach again with these two people for sure,” Edison said. “It’s really cool that we can do it as a family.”
“The coaching, it worked. It gelled well,” Power added. “A lot of people don’t have things in common like that, that they do together. To do it in three generations is not going to happen a lot.”