Blossoming basketball program attracts youth in Victoria

by Will Johnson

Becoming a successful athlete can be a real grind.

No matter how you look at it, if you want to succeed in any particular sport, you need to be willing to sweat. Nobody understands this better than Terrell Evans, who dribbled his way from an impoverished upbringing on the Westside of Las Vegas through an illustrious basketball career that took him all over the world before he settled down to start his own program in Victoria, The Grind

“I always knew, having such great coaches myself, that eventually I wanted to give back to the game. Based on my own lived experiences in everything I do – whether it be education, sport, no matter what – it’s going to be a grind.  You are going to have to dig deep,”  Evans told Sport for Life.  

The program began in 2019, shortly after Evans completed his degree at the University of Victoria. An opportunity to mentor local kids sprung into something larger as word of mouth spread. His program was just hitting its stride when the pandemic hit, but he was able to keep in touch with his approximately 30 participants via online workouts. As restrictions began to ease and the program continued to develop based on the tenets of Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity, his program blossomed to include approximately 100 athletes.

Though he wasn’t specifically targeting participants from marginalized communities, Evans’s ranks include players from a wide variety of backgrounds thanks to his emphasis on inclusion.

“My kids come from all over. Different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, economic situations. I’ve got newcomers in my program, Indigenous, Black and Asian participants. They come from all over for the same reason–to get better at basketball.”

As far as Evans is concerned, he’s not just teaching these kids a sport–he’s showing them a whole way of life.

“When I was starting out, I wanted to bring together coaches, families, and players who were on the same wavelength. The vision is, we want to win, but not as far as the number of trophies – more about the life experience and memories of being a part of a community and team. To keep building something positive and powerful for the next generation, both on and off the court,” he said. 

“We want to make this a better place, then we need to start in our own backyards and our own communities. It’s not just about basketball, it’s about learning. It’s a whole way of life. That’s the Grind..”

Sport for Life’s Manager of People & Culture, Billie Tes feels the program is an excellent example of grassroots quality sport.

“The thing I find inspiring about Terrell’s work with the Grind is that he’s coupled an emphasis on properly developing athletes in the long-term and ensuring true inclusion is achieved as much as possible. The kids participating in his program are being given a chance to create a lifelong love with a physical activity that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives. Here at Sport for Life, this is exactly the type of program we envision creating, and we applaud Terrell’s success so far.”

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