Enhancing School Basketball Opportunities for Grade 8/9 Students – Next Up Program

As we enter a new year, the sports education and development world continues to evolve. One exciting initiative on the horizon is creating a Grade 8/9 basketball program called Next Up, which is designed to provide opportunities for students who may not make their school’s basketball teams. Spearheaded by Advancement and Community Schools Partnership at Surrey Schools and Drew Mitchell, Sport for Life, this program aims to be a beacon of inclusivity and engagement for young athletes in Surrey, BC. In this article, we’ll delve into the concept, structure, staffing, funding, and potential impact of this innovative basketball program.

The core concept behind this initiative is clear: to create an avenue for Grade 8/9 students not on their school basketball teams to participate in a competitive school basketball program. The program recognizes that these students may face various barriers or simply not make the main school team. While many schools focus on providing opportunities for female students interested in basketball, this program will initially prioritize male players.

Several secondary schools in Surrey, identified for participation in this first pilot year based on need and readiness, have shown interest, including Guildford Park, Kwantlen Park, LA Matheson, Frank Hurt, Princess Margaret, Earl Marriott, and Semiahmoo. This collaboration among multiple schools emphasizes the community aspect of the initiative.

The proposed program structure for this program outlines a three-month season, running from April to June 2024. During this period, students will engage in one practice per week, lasting 1.5 hours. Additionally, one game day per week will see nearby teams play against each other. Importantly, the program encourages sustainability by organizing a central “game day/tournament,” where all participating teams come together by bus to a central location.

To ensure the success of this program, a well-rounded staffing and coaching model has been devised. Each program will be operated by the following key individuals:

  • A Surrey School District Community Schools Partnership Outreach Worker per site.
  • A community-based/partner organization coach (e.g., Game Ready, YMCA, Urban Rec) per site.
  • A senior secondary student assistant coach who will gain valuable leadership and work experience per site.
  • A central program coordinator is responsible for scheduling games, identifying and securing staff and coaching, and ensuring the program’s efficient operation year after year.

Funding is a crucial component of any sports development program. Surrey Schools (SD36) has committed to covering the costs of the Community Schools Outreach Worker at three north Surrey sites and community-based/partner coaches at three sites.

The total contribution from the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation-funded Move for Life project managed by Sport for Life stands at $35,000 per year. This funding will be pivotal in making this program accessible and sustainable for the participating schools.

The proposed Grade 8/9 basketball program is a testament to the dedication and vision of individuals and organizations like Surrey Schools and Drew Mitchell and the collaboration between educational institutions and community organizations. It not only seeks to provide basketball opportunities for students who may not make their school’s grade 8 basketball team but also provides social connections and fosters a sense of community and inclusivity.  The program will also create space for students who may be marginalized from mainstream sports, build physical and mental well-being, and deepen student connections to schools as a place of safety and support.

This initiative showcases the commitment to developing physical literacy and long-term development (LTD) in sport and physical activity, aligning perfectly with the principles of advancing LTD and physical literacy work. As we eagerly await the launch of this program in Surrey, it is clear that this innovative thought leadership is set to make a significant impact on the sports education landscape, serving as an example of how collaboration and inclusivity can drive positive change in our communities.

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