G.P. Vanier Towhees basketball teams have been practising all month, preparing for the upcoming season. There are four boys teams and four girls with a host of dedicated coaches trying to improve everyone’s game fundamentals and court discipline.
For 46 years Vanier basketball has been a competitive program at all levels on Vancouver Island and in some years, in the province. A great tradition has developed at the Headquarters Road gym and it is time for our Valley enthusiasts to come on by and cheer on the teams.
The Junior team is coached by Sherri Houlden and Jade Heavener, both former Towhees who love coaching these kids. There are mostly Grade 9s with a few Grade 10s who have spent the last two weeks preparing for their first games next week. League games are Tuesdays.
The Grade 8 girls will be coached by former Towhees Faeryn Curtin and Jessica Pitre, while being sponsored by vice-principal Jennifer Gordon. They are just getting underway since most of them were playing volleyball up to last week. Everyone is looking forward to learning loads about this beautiful game.
The Varsity girls are led by head coach Heidi Zirkl, and she will be assisted by John Lewis (Vanier, early ‘80s) Peter Parke and managed by Kerry Barth. The three assistants have the pleasure of working with an experienced ex-college player in Alaska, a pro player in Europe, while Heidi played at a prestigious high school in the eastern USA. They are all joined by only two returning seniors, and then a strong contingent of up-and-coming Grade 10s and 11s who have all been together for many years.
The girls start their home schedule with their eight-team tournament Dec. 5-6 at Vanier – affectionately called the Hugh MacKinnon Classic. Their first game will be at 1 p.m. Friday against Gulf Islands.
The following week (Dec. 12-13) the girls join with the boys at the Gus Vesterback Tournament. There in an eight-team league and hopefully by the end of the long season this young team will be a factor in the playoffs.
The Junior team is coached by Tony Edwards and his assistant is former Towhee Scott Stevens (2012). Tony and Scott have a quick, skilled team of Grade 10s who lack in overall height but will make up for that with plenty of quickness and guile.
Our Grade 9 boys team has a dozen or more of enthusiastic players who love the game, have lots to learn, have great height, and will be led into the arena by coach James Shepherd. His assistants are Ross Jamieson and Andrew MacIntosh and all three coaches will be stressing fundamentals. League games will be on Thursdays.
The Grade 8 team is just starting up and head coach Jason Cobey (vice-principal) will be helped by senior player Bryce Olsen to introduce the lads to the fast-paced game of basketball. Their league games will be on Mondays once the season starts in mid December.
The 2014-15 edition of the Varsity team can be described as athletic, tall, enthusiastic and dedicated – and great representatives of the Comox Valley. Seniors Brandon Balon, Bryce Olsen, Reece Meyerhoff and Anders Stoorgard are ready to go, and will lead our athletic and talented Grade 11 crew of Tyler Knopp, Chase Hobenshield, Wyatt Strachan, Ty Edwards, Darren Smith, Tim Wilson, Ben Jungwirth, Matt Sebolerros and Bo Muijlwijk. This crew will be a lot of fun to watch since they love to apply pressure defence, run hard on the fast break and compete with each other for every loose ball and rebound.
Having the pleasure of working with this exciting crew are head coach Larry Street (21st year coaching the boys at Vanier) and assistants Maureen Olsen and Ken MacRae. There is an upcoming season of 30 games, seven tournaments, an Idaho trip, and then an Island championship to contend for. Many think this year’s team has the tools to do so.
– G.P. Vanier Towhees Basketball