In his coaching capacity, Chris Kennedy is as excited as any of the athletes about the upcoming BC Summer Games July 19 to 22.
“I think it is the best amateur sporting event in B.C.,” says Kennedy, who is set to guide the under-13 boys’ Vancouver-Coastal 3-on-3 zone basketball team with former Richmond Colt Ben Mayan and Shawn Hill at the Games in the Cowichan Valley.
In basketball-mad Richmond, 3-on-3 hoops is, quite literally, taking off. Recently approved as a Olympic sport beginning with the Tokyo Games in 2020, the Vancouver-Coastal team features 10 boys from Richmond—the highest representation of local athletes in all sports.
Wesley Ainu’u, Gavin Cameron, David Dillague, Kyle Hill, Zachary Kennedy, Josh Mayan, Kaden Nelson, Owen Strang, Benjamin Worthington-White and Zach Zapanta will meet players from zones around the province. Eight of the 10 boys were part of the Richmond Youth Basketball League program this past season, and six of the boys suited up for the winning team that won its division in the Western Canada Basketball Invitational that concluded July 1.
Kennedy has been coaching 3-on-3 basketball since it was introduced at the BC Games in 2014. He’s observed significant growth each year.
“In 2014 we had barely enough to field a team tryout and this year we had over 50 boys try out,” he marvels.
A lifelong basketball aficionado, Kennedy appreciates how the game can help young players grow.
“I like that 3-on-3 is at under-13. The kids get a lot of touches on the ball and it is great for movement and development. For the Richmond boys, they will also be high school rivals next year, so it is great to have them get to play together this summer. For many kids, the BC Games is a life highlight. What makes this so unique is that it is a multi-sport event, so they are surrounded by swimmers, rugby players and triathletes. It is really like a mini Olympic Games.”
At the Games, all the student athletes stay in dorm-style accommodations and, says Kennedy, “are treated extremely well.”
In addition to the Games, Richmond’s basketball reps will be participating in a number of other tournaments including the BBall Nationals in Langley in early August. The boys also engage in a number of team building and social events. The coaching staff trying to ensure this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they all remember fondly.