by Stephen Dafoe

The Morinville Youth Basketball Association has a new president. James Bedford, a Morinville resident for the past 12 years, takes over this season from Serge Froment, the man who has been at the helm of the association for years and who helped lead several teams to City and Provincial Championships.

Below is our interview with Bedford on his role and the direction the MYBA will take this year.

MN: How long have you been with MYBA and what positions have you held?

JB: I have been with MYBA for one season, coaching my son’s Mini Boys team last year. Early last spring, Serge contacted me to see whether I’d be interested in heading up a group of parents who would succeed him as he steps away from MYBA, and I jumped at the opportunity to be more involved.

MN: What is the new position and how do you feel about taking the helm from Serge?

JB: My new position is President of the Association, serving on an Executive Committee alongside parents Jennie Rosendahl and Jennifer Roddis. Initially, it was definitely a little bit intimidating to be taking the helm from Serge, knowing how much time and energy he put into running the Association. But I quickly realized that he has left MYBA in excellent shape. He’s also still only a phone call or text away if we need his advice on anything. Also, having Jennie and Jennifer to help me, makes the task seem much less daunting. We’re doing our jobs well if we can avoid having the parents and players realize just how fortunate they were to have Serge running the show ever since MYBA started in 2009. I just can’t say enough great things about him and the job he’s done here.

MN: What can we expect from MYBA this season as compared to previous years?

JB: Initially, our main goal is to keep things running just as smoothly under the new leadership as it was under Serge’s. We don’t want to upset the apple cart. But eventually we will strive to grow the association, hopefully fielding multiple teams per age level, and adding a Mites level for players under age eight. We will make improvements to our website and streamline the registration and merchandise shopping processes.

MN: What can you say about the growth of basketball over the past few years?

JB: Basketball has been one of the fastest growing sports in Canada over the past several years, and has overtaken hockey in terms of the number of youth participants. Perhaps not quite so much yet here in Morinville as in urban centres, but it is definitely growing in popularity. I think that changing demographics, the low cost to play, the relative safety of the sport, and the recent success of the Toronto Raptors and Canadian players like Steve Nash, Andrew Wiggins, and many others are all big reasons for this surge. As well, the development of youth leagues like the Edmonton Youth Basketball Association, which MYBA competes in, has helped to give more kids an opportunity to play organized basketball, rather than just having school teams to play on like it was when I was growing up. Nowadays, kids can start playing a lot earlier, and they don’t have to be one of the top 3-4 players in their grade in order to make the team; anyone can play.

MN: What levels of boys and girls ball are you planning to put on the court this season?

JB: This season, we plan to field both boys and girls teams in all four of the different age categories that EYBA offers: Mini, for players born in 2006-2008; Bantam, for players born in 2004-2005; Midget, for players born in 2002-2003; and Juvenile, for players born in 1999-2001. If we have sufficient numbers to run a Mites program for players born in 2009 and later, then we will add that as well.

MN: Can you give us some details on how those interested in joining can do so?

JB: Parents who have children interested in joining can contact me through our website: morinvilleyouthbasketball.com We will also be participating in the Morinville Active Living Fair at the Community Cultural Centre on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 8; parents can stop by to meet us, get more information, and register their players. We do not hold tryouts — all youth of any skill level who want to play will get to, provided that we have enough participants to run a team, or to field a second team. We will get started with the first practices around the end of September, so please register as soon as possible.

MN: Do you have all the coaches lined up for this season and is there anything you might like to mention about them?

JB: We have all of our coaches lined up for this season for the number of teams that we currently anticipate. They really are the lifeblood of our Association. They all volunteer their time and talents, and not all of them even have children on their teams; they’re just very passionate about the sport of basketball and helping youth realize their maximum potential. Most, if not all, of our coaches have taken various levels of training in the National Coaching Certification Program that Canada Basketball has recently implemented.

MN: Anything else you’d want people to know about yourself, the teams, etc.?

JB: I grew up playing basketball in Wetaskiwin, and moved to Morinville with my wife, Tara, in 2004 when I started working for the local general contracting firm, Flynn Bros. We have two sons, Liam and Zeke, who are both going to be playing on the Mini Boys team this season, and a daughter, Joelle, who is still a couple of years shy of being a Mini Girl. I still play basketball a few times each week in Edmonton, and I’m working with the Town to hopefully get a weekly adult basketball night up and running, starting this fall.

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