A popular West Richmond Community Centre based program is feeding the city’s ever-growing appetite for hoops over the summer months.
The West Richmond Summer Slam is a non-profit recreational program designed for kids of all ages and abilities. It provides a summer packed full of games, instructional camps and special events at a very affordable cost.
Registration grew to over 400 a year ago and the Toronto Raptors’ run to the NBA championship has fuelled even more interest.
“We have lot of people this year. You could feel it in the air after they won. Our numbers have always been great but after they won everyone wanted to play,” said Summer Slam program coordinator Alisha Roberts. “It was such a cool experience. You can tell how exciting it is for basketball in Canada. It is really taking off.”
Roberts stepped away from her regular City of Richmond position to take on the program. The former York House standout, who played collegiately at Pepperdine and SFU is part of an impressive Summer Slam staff that also includes former high school standouts Jessica Jones (McMath), Zach San Felipe (Vancouver College) and Nathan Schroeder (McNair). Jones is heading into her junior year at SFU.
Summer Slam also depends on volunteers for everything from coaching teams to running the score clocks.
Although Summer Slam is exclusive to the West Richmond Community Centre, it is attracting kids from throughout the city.
“What makes this program so special is really the kids and their drive to still be involved in basketball in the summer,” continued Roberts. “Lot of them don’t get the opportunity to do competitive teams over the summer or parents are not able to drive them. They still want to be involved and they still want to play.
“It is also a recreational based and fun program. It varies so much in skill level. Some of have never played before and it’s so awesome. Those are the kids you get excited about. The strides and leaps they make that first week. It is so exciting to see that improvement. We get ecstatic to see it.”
For kids in Grades 4-7, the season consists of one practice and game per week. The Grade 8-12 teams play two games a week.
Development camps are also offered throughout the summer and focus on certain skills such as fundamentals, ball handling, shooting and decision making. Kids can register for these camps even if they are not participating in league play.
Summer Slam is also opening up it’s 3-on-3 Tournament for the very first time. It will take place Aug. 20-21 on West Richmond’s outdoor court and will have a bit of a Dolphin Classic feel with music and bleachers for spectators. There will be two divisions — Grades 4-7 and Grades 8-12 — and is open to everyone. Registration is $50 per team with a maximum of five players and a guarantee of four games. There will also be shooting competitions.
“We decided this year to create an end-of-summer tournament and the cool thing is it’s not just for to be Summer Slam Kids,” added Roberts. “There will be tents set up and music. We are hoping to make it a real fun atmosphere for the kids.”
Registration for the 3-on-3 tournament and remaining camps can be done online through http://www.richmond.ca/register. For more information on West Richmond Summer Slam visit http://www.westrichmondsummerslam.com.