Lorilee Sharpe feels an opportunity has been taken away from children in the city and is now attempting to create one in its place.
That’s why Western Wolves Basketball has been formed, catering — at least at first — to Grade 7-aged boys who want to play basketball but aren’t among those selected to play on Corner Brook Intermediate’s Grade 7 boys basketball team.
In previous years, Sharpe said, the junior high school offered two boys basketball teams per grade, but she said that was changed this year without the consultation of parents like herself. She claims her husband was told intramurals would be offered to the three grades instead, but that’s for only one day a week, for an hour and a half.
“We were led to believe gym time is the issue,” she said. “But no one has come out and said that.”
Sharpe said she has no problem with there being an “elite” team for kids who excel but deciding that only 15 kids can play competitive basketball at such a young age is detrimental for the community and the Corner Brook Intermediate/Corner Brook Regional High basketball program in general.
“There could be a child who is 6’-7” come Grade 12, but they haven’t been given an opportunity to play because they’ve been cut out at Grade 7,” she said. “That’s not good for creating an elite team either, if that’s the goal.”
She said last year there were around 70-80 Grade 6 boys playing basketball in the city, and now that’s been whittled to 15. There is a local club team, the Humber Valley Basketball Club Mountaineers, but that’s also a squad that requires making a final roster of 15 players — 11 of which are also on the Corner Brook Intermediate team, Sharpe said.
She said the offer was made to Corner Brook Intermediate for her husband Jonathan — a Level 2 nationally certified basketball coach — to run either a second, balanced team, or if not, an “open for everyone” fair play team, but it was declined. She said there was another individual offering the same for Grade 8 boys but was met with a similar response.
In an emailed statement Friday afternoon, Corner Brook Intermediate principal Peter Burt said the decision to drop the number of teams was made following discussions over the last year with the school council and staff, as well as members of the school community
“The previous model had become unmanageable from an organizing perspective and required a significant commitment from those parent/community volunteers and volunteer teacher-sponsors who did come forward,” wrote Burt.
This year, the school started an intramural program that has generated plenty of interest and has some 100 students registered to participate in a number of after-school sports that include dodgeball, volleyball and basketball, amongst others.
“The school will be consulting with students, staff and community members as it continues to monitor and assess the changes to their extra-curricular sports offerings, and will continue to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of all Corner Brook Intermediate students,” the statement read.
The situation has forced the Corner Brook couple into action, said Sharpe, with the incorporation of Western Wolves Basketball, a non-profit basketball program.
Jonathan Sharpe will coach a Grade 7 team of as many kids that are interested, with gym time already secured at the Corner Brook Civic Centre Studio. The first session goes 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Court No. 1, with the first 15 minutes being used for a parents meeting to discuss what people want to see and how they’d like the program to proceed.
Though it’s currently just for Grade 7 boys, due to the concern numbers may be very large based on how many were playing basketball in Grade 6 last year, it may eventually open up to Grade 8-9 groups. Anyone interested in running similar programs under the Wolves umbrella for Grade 8 or Grade 9 boys, or girls’ teams for that matter, are encouraged to attend the meeting to make their presence known.
Sharpe feels there’s definitely a need for the program, if there are no other means for kids this age to play basketball, whether they’ve played the last couple of years or never played before.
For more information, contact Sharpe at 660-7529, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Western Wolves Basketball page on Facebook.
“Or just show up for the parent meeting,” said Sharpe.