Above: Coach Serge Froment holds the score sheet from the first game Morinville Youth Basketball Association players played in the Edmonton Youth Basketball Association league back in 2009.
– Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Coach Serge Froment will see a group of girls graduating this year that he began coaching when they were in the second grade. The local chiropractor and basketball coach has been with Morinville Youth Basketball since their inception, and many of those players are now on the Morinville Community High School Senior Wolves team.
Froment’s love of basketball came at an early age when he would play with his younger brother and his friends.
“I was a kid who shot baskets in my driveway for hours and hours every night,” he recalled, adding neighbours who are not patients have confided in him they were happy when he’d final quit bouncing the ball so they could go to sleep. “I loved shooting the basketball.”
Though the sport was not as well organized in Froment’s day as it is today, he did play a significant role ensuring resources and training were there when his daughters began school and were looking for something sports related. Starting with 13 girls and two teams in the second year, they now field seven and eight teams each year.
The Morinville Youth Basketball Association basketballers were called The Roadrunners, a nameSarah Chevalier, one of the original players, chose.
“Some of the girls wanted to be called Coyotes. I said, ‘No. That’s your junior high team. The coyote never wins. Sarah said the roadrunner always wins.”
After winning endlessly in a Knights of Columbus house league in St. Albert for their first three years, the girls lost 61-6 in their first Edmonton Youth Basketball Association game Oct. 3, 2009. Froment still has the original score sheet in a frame in his office, a constant reminder of the importance of tenacity and perseverance in sports.
It is a dedication to the game that has carried on.
Michelle Barstad’s daughter, Shayla, is one of Froment’s original basketballers. She, like many basketball moms and dads, have a great appreciation for what Froment has done with the sport and the players.
“Serge is a great guy, and an awesome coach [who] has given countless hours to these girls over the last 11 years,” Barstad said. “I know they consider him family.”
Froment has coached many of the original players through their entire basketball careers over the last 11 years.
But there is more to Froment’s coaching than teaching players the rules and the skills of the game. He brings a unique philosophy to coaching that involves respect and appreciation for those who make sacrifices to ensure players get to and from the court.
“As a coach you realize you’ve got good kids, and every good kid has a good parent,” he said. “So we made sure to thank the parents. I’d send kids home with an exercise. It might be just to say thank you. The parents would reply, ‘What’s wrong with you. Are you OK?’ It’s made to keep the family part of it strong.”
Youth Basketball doing well
And basketball and the players are OK. Froment said the current year for the ORIJEN Sabretooths, the name the team adopted when Champion Petfoods began sponsoring the association, has been a great year as they have both boys and girls teams at all three levels: Minis, Bantam, and Midget.
“We’ve got great coaches,” Froment said of the program. “We’ve even got some high school kids that have graduated and come back to coach.
The basketballers are through the first two rounds of the season and have about four games of the third round ahead of playoffs. He is hopeful to make provincials again.
“The Midget Girls are quite strong – so that they could be invited,” he said. “The Sabretooths are doing great and doing exactly what they were meant to do. Give everyone a chance to play.”
Froment said this would likely be his last year as president of the Morinville Youth Basketball Association.
“Now that my girls are not playing here anymore, it would be nice to pass it on,” he said. “I’ve got several parents who are interested, and I’ve known them, some of them for years. I know I’ve got some good people.”
Youth Basketball creating solid high school players
With more than a decade of basketball experience in Morinville and area, the program has helped to feed middle and high school teams, bringing them to success. Froment and his coaches have played a big role in that.
“Right now we have beaten or beaten teams that have beaten our main two competitors at the zone level to represent Morinville at provincials,” he said. “It appears if we play well and continue to improve they should make their third straight appearance at high school provincials.”
The three years prior, many of Froment’s high school team had been at community basketball provincials and city championships as Sabretooths. “These girls have been at provincials now six straight years, winning the first three,” Froment said.
The Wolves started their season in early December and are currently half way through with three league games left, all at home in February. The girls host an invitational tournament in Morinville at the end of the month.
The high school success has not been without help.
“MCHS has been incredibly supportive of me, and it’s not unusual to have the principal out to our games,” Froment said. “It’s been a very good experience from the athletic director Kent Lessard to the principal, vice principal, and school liaison Neil Korotash.
Looking back at a decade plus of coaching, Froment would not change any of it.
“As a coach for 11 years, I’ve dealt with so little of problems with kids or parents,” he said of the support network of players, parents, and coaches. “It’s been a dream vocation just to show up at practice and have 10,11,12 kids that are really happy to play with each other.”
Both the Primeau Boys and Girls teams took silver last weekend.