Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s basketball team is rebounding as strong contenders this year.
After years with just a handful of regular members, this year the senior boys’ Eagles basketball team - under the guidance of coach Andrew Steeves - now has 14 players.
“I’m a big advocate of team sports for young people. I think it’s just a great way to learn a lot about your peers and build a ton of character,” said Steeves, who has been the coach for the past three years. “It’s nice to see it’s caught on and hopefully it’s something that over the next few years, with more volunteers coming out from the coaching standpoint, we can continue to develop a program for all ages of basketball in the community.”
A forestry technician with Zanzibar Holdings Inc., Steeves was an avid basketball player while growing up in the small town of Sackville, N.B. He reached out to PSO to become part of its basketball program as soon as he arrived in 100 Mile House in 2018.
He was surprised to find the basketball program was almost “non-existent to very inconsistent.” To form a team, he realized he would have to build it from the ground up and began running practices every week and finding fun ways to teach the players new skills and plays.
“This is a hockey community, more than anything. Where I grew up there was a lot of minor basketball programs where you started playing in Grades 1-4 and you slowly develop your skills as you move up,” Steeves said. “In 100 Mile, there’s a lot of that in hockey but there are always guys who can’t afford to play hockey or just have no interest in it.”
Two of the team’s most passionate players, Mohamed Omer and Yuvraj Chhina, said Steeves has made a huge difference to the club.
“It feels really good because a lot of the kids here you wouldn’t expect to show up for basketball,” said Omer, a point guard on the team. “Usually hockey or baseball but it’s surprising how many show up consistently now to basketball.”
At a recent exhibition game against the Lake City Falcons, the PSO Eagles’ new team was put to the test. They lost 79-50, but Omer and Chhina saw the result as encouraging. Omer noted two years ago they lost their first game by 60 but they only trailed by 29 in the latest competition.
READ MORE: Wranglers win back-to-back home games
“It was the first game, we wanted to have fun and we did that,” he said.
Steeves said Williams Lake is a strong team and he was proud of the way his team performed. For many of the Falcons it was their first time playing in front of their peers at PSO and they had to work some jitters out.
“I would say it felt good for all of them. There was a lot of excitement in the gym in different stages of the game and lots of cheering in the stands,” he said. “I think that’s an encouraging sign that high school students are just excited to watch sports and cheer their peers on.”
Steeves learned he needs to focus on his team’s defensive game and build up his player’s individual skills and confidence. PSO is not part of any set high school league, so Steeves is still planning out the season. For now he intends to continue to play exhibition games during the week and enter the Eagles into some weekend tournaments in the new year. As most of the students, including Chhina and Omer, on the team are in Grade 11, Steeves views this season as a building year.
“We’ve got a great potential as a basketball team and I think it’s going to be exciting as the year goes on to see how much better these guys will get.”
Anyone looking to help coach the team or join as a sponsor are invited to contact Steeves at email@example.com.