Chasing hoop dreams 101

New school district academy designed to benefit basketball programs throughout the city

Making an impact on the basketball programs at all seven city secondary schools thanks to 200 hours of additional training time at a world class facility.

That’s the basic objective of the Delta School District’s latest sports academy.

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The Delta Basketball Academy is taking flight for the 2019-20 school year and will be based out of the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Students attending linear schools will be bussed to the facility every other morning, while schools on a semester schedule will be going on a daily basis for half the year. The cost is estimated at $325 monthly based on 40 students.

The program will be overseen by Eric Butler and Navi Sekhon.

Butler is a former UBC standout who played professionally in Europe for about a decade and has been program director for Split Second Basketball since 2005. Sekhon is one of the greatest players ever to come out of Delta Secondary who went on to thrive at the collegiate level and has been active in recent years coaching youth.

There have been attempts in the past to bring a basketball academy to Delta but the potential of creating “super” teams at the host school didn’t sit well with the district nor B.C. School Sports’ player eligibility rules.

“They realized we were two guys just trying to make Delta a prevalent basketball community,” explained Sekhon. “We just want to coach and make the kids better.

“There are rules and regulations (within B.C. School Sports). You just can’t go to a school and start playing there. We covered all that stuff and, at the end of the day, made our presentation in front of principals and athletic directors and convinced them.”

While Sekhon made sure the academy was the right fit for the school district, it was Butler who took on securing the Oval. His relationship with Chief Operating Officer John Mills, dating back to his days at UBC, came in handy.

It means the academy will also benefit from the Oval programs for elite athletes including strength and conditioning, nutrition and sports psychology. The massive multi-sport facility also features eight FIBA regulation size courts.

“A neutral site was one of the keys that was able to differentiate our proposal. (The Oval) was always looking for a basketball high performance option during day time hours. We presented times that didn’t conflict with any of the existing programs they have there,” said Butler.

“We have been really lucky getting to work with (Oval Manager of High Performance and Fitness) Andrew Clark. He is putting together a really compelling package for us using their resources.”

On the court, Butler and Sekhon will lean on their coaching experience and suggest the additional court time will greatly enhance player development.

“Most kids are playing between 60 and 100 games a year in school and club basketball. But they are just not getting enough time with the ball in their hands,” added Butler. “Just for the little details like getting your shot off quicker and making decisions on the court.”

“We never had anything like this,” smiled Sekhon. “You are getting school credits to play basketball. We want to see this grow and have college and universities come out to see these kids at the end of year. Hopefully this academy is going to produce basketball players who are going to go somewhere and play for a long time.”

For more information and to register for the Delta Basketball Academy visit http://deltaacademies.ca

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