Pelham Panthers train on-line
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaitlyn Brophy would have been in the midst of her second season with Niagara Juel Prep girls basketball team.
Like all athletes of all ages and abilities, the Grade 10 student at E.L. Crossley is missing being able to play her favourite sport.
“It’s hard because myself and other athletes thrive off of a competitive atmosphere and the anticipation of games,” the 15-year-old Fonthill resident said. “It has been really tough and even when we had socially distanced training, it just wasn’t the same.”
Knowing that its 300-plus travel basketball players were likely feeling the same way, the Pelham Panthers Basketball Association has stepped up to provide free on-line training.
“With the lockdown, we decided we had to do something to keep these kids engaged so we decided to contact two or our trainers and go on-line,” Pelham Panthers president Brian Bleich said. “We wanted to provide this free for the kids to help with their mental health and keep them active at home.”
Bleich created a Zoom channel and two of the club’s trainers, Lequan Hylton and Keveshan Padachey, do three sessions three times a week. Padachey focuses on athletic development and Hylton works on basketball skills. The sessions are divided into Grades 3 to 6, Grades 6 to 8 and high school players. Bleich records and edits the sessions and posts them on the association’s website (www.pelhambasketball.ca) for the players who are unable to attend the Zoom sessions.
Anywhere from 60 to 80 kids are taking part in each session and almost 80 per cent of the association’s travel players have been participating.
Brophy takes part in the 30-minute sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and is glad for the distraction.
“Every day is the same and we are not doing anything,” she said. “I tend to forget what day of the week it is but it really breaks up the week and it gets you doing something where everything kind of feels normal again.”
She does the workouts in the basement of her family’s home.
“The coaches are really good at using resources that everyone has,” Brophy said. “They don’t use weights or anything like that. You use chairs and there’s non-weighted exercises so everyone can do them.”
She is a big fan of the workouts.
“I really like them. They are not super hard and they are not going to make you die but they are really focused because the coaches are also basketball coaches,” Brophy said. “Anyone can work out but when you have coaches working you through exercises for the specific sport, that is always good.”
Hylton, a former Niagara College men’s basketball player and a current assistant coach with the team under Phil Mosley, has been gearing the workouts to stationary ball handling, shot preparation, form shooting, pivoting and quick first step moves.”
Hylton misses the interactions and building relationships with the players with in-person sessions but knows that the on-line sessions are just what the players need during lockdown.
“Them being active and still being able to handle a basketball is great for them,” he said. “I love doing it and I can wait for Thursdays and Saturdays where I am able to get the kids active. I love seeing them because I miss them, for sure.”
And while the on-line sessions continue, Bleich is already planning the next moves for Pelham basketball.
“I am hoping that we are back in the gym by March. Even if our region opens in red, we have a plan to get the kids back in the gym,” he said. “It would be 10 per gym and we would divide the gym in half. We are ready to go.”