Community Basketball program success extends to high school

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by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – After seeing his basketball players win 65 straight games, three city and three provincial championships, basketball coach Serge Froment is seeing many of the players he has watched grow up in the game taking to the court at Morinville Community High School. Froment, who is involved with the Morinville Orijen Sabretooths, formerly the Road Runners, is now also coach of the MCHS Senior Girls basketball team, a team who will be hosting a tournament Jan. 30 – Feb. 2.

The girls, now in Grade 10 and 11, are gelling well as a team and facing some tough completion. Thus far the girls have won five of their 10 games. “We’ve played against some very good city teams. I think we were all humbled a little because we realized how good basketball can be when you play big city teams,” Froment said. “We’ve had to work on several things at practice that in the past we didn’t. We got by. We seemed to [win] with just pure skill and we didn’t have to work that hard at these things, but now we find that we have to put in some definite thought into what happens when this happens. The girls are responding very well to that.”

With the team working well on and off the basketball court as they move higher in the rankings in the province, and their ultimate goal of winning a provincial gold medal in high school basketball, Froment is hoping the upcoming tournament will be another opportunity to move up a notch. The MCHS tournament will host 18 teams.

More success following behind

With the former community basketball champions now dribbling for a high school team, Froment is seeing the success repeated with a new generation of players coming up behind them. The Bantam Orijen Sabretooths, a team of 11- and 12-year-old players, are currently sitting with 13 wins and no losses. “I find that the formula is the same, Froment said of the team’s successes. “You look out and there are great kids. You look out and the parents are the first to step up to help volunteer. If a kid is going to miss practice, I get a text. I get an email. Whether they are the best player on the team or the weakest, everyone seems to get along. They really get along well. They’re becoming a team. They just love to be together. Practice goes well.”

The Sabretooths have two games left in the current season of three rounds of five games each. Provincials are scheduled for mid-March and Froment is fully anticipating good things for the current crop of Bantam players.

Homework integral part of success on and off the basketball court

Working hard is a requirement of being a member of the Morinville Sabretooths, both for players and the coaches that assist Froment, but the work does not end when the game or practise is done. Players on the team are assigned with what Froment calls homework – duties that have nothing to do with the game but everything to do with the broader goals of the program.

“We still make sure that parents are thanked for the meal that they are served before the practice and for the fact that if they forget their shoes, it’s mom that runs home and gets them,” Froment explained of the courtesy and respect expected of his players. “The older girls that I get to see three or four times a week get a lot. We are moving that to a nice new level.” Froment has been working with the MCHS players on parts of Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code; a book the basketball coach believes is helping the players on and off the team. Each week Froment goes over a number of Coyle’s success tips with the players during practice. “The first thing you have to do is ignite a passion,” he said. “In Canada it is very easy to have a passion for hockey. We win gold medals. Our kids all play. We have junior and senior teams in Morinville. We have lots of exposure. We have to ignite a passion and it’s starting to happen in basketball in Canada and in Alberta.”

The homework initiatives of the Morinville Orijen Sabretooths extend throughout the association’s seven teams, which consists of three boys teams and four girls teams. Froment said the association is adding 20 players per year.

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