Ecole Boreale students have added another sport to their growing roster, taking up basketball in the hopes of fielding a team to go to the popular Cagers tournament in Yellowknife this February with a grade 11 coach taking at the helm.
The mixed boys and girls team of 10, 11, and 12-year olds practises Thursdays at lunch and Fridays after school, guided by Franknel Pabai, a fellow Boreale student.
Pabai is one of several students who stepped up to coaching positions, including soccer coach Daniel DaRosa from Diamond Jenness Secondary School and Kateryna Staszuk from Boreale who leads after-school fitness programs for younger children.
Pabai said he took the position after being approached by his fellow coach and teacher Kim Ivanko.
“Ms. Kim asked me if I wanted to volunteer and I said ‘Yes,’ that’s pretty much it,” he said. “But it’s also a great opportunity to work with younger kids and to help out.”
Pabai said he is considering a career working with children, and was grateful for the chance to hone relevant skills. Although the season is still young — the team has only had a few weeks of practices, with many of the players unfamiliar with the game itself — he said his favourite part of the job so far is watching the 10 or so students learn and have fun at the same time.
“People my age are getting used to helping out with the younger grades,” Pabai said. “It’s good for us to learn these skills, but it’s really good for the younger kids too, to have people closer to their own age to look up to, I guess.”
As for the players, despite only having seen a few practices with varying turnout, they are looking forward to taking their game to the next level.
“I’m looking forward to going to Cagers,” said Conner McKay-Ivanko. “It’ll be the first tournament we’ve ever gone to for basketball.”
While other goals ranged from Jack Coombs’ reasonable “be taller” to Landon Bowker’s ambitious plan of learning to slam dunk by the end of the winter, coach Pabai had a slightly more philosophical outlook.
“This is my first time coaching,” he said. “But more than anything, I’m really looking forward to seeing them work together to solve problems. It will be great to see them overcome things as a team and see them succeed, but always keeping them challenged.”