Saint Mary’s basketball players help kids improve their skills and the courts they play on
HALIFAX -- Most school gyms across the Maritimes are closed due to COVID-19 safety measures, so basketball players are practising outside this summer, including the Saint Mary's Huskies.
Unable to access to their home court, members of the Saint Mary's University men’s basketball team have taken their show on the road.
“As soon as things kind of opened up and the courts were reopened, we figured that we would get out to as many outdoor courts as we could in every community and bring kids with us,” says Mat MacDonald, the assistant coach for the Saint Mary’s Huskies.
“The whole point is to get kids outside, playing basketball, and realizing you don't have to have a gym to be successful.”
MacDonald recruited a couple of his players to offer on-court training to kids across the Halifax Regional Municipality, including AUS all-star forward Q. Gibson, who is a native of the Bahamas.
“I have had a little bit of success in this city and I feel like a lot of kids look up to me, if they see me on the outside court maybe they'll want to get out and train like us outside every day,” says Gibson.
As MacDonald and Gibson travelled around Halifax, they discovered many of the courts were in rough shape.
“A lot of rims don't have mesh … or there's one string or one thread left,” says MacDonald.
“You see kids shooting the ball, it is going in, hitting the pole and flying 40 feet the other way. So we wanted to try to fix that.”
MacDonald says they have collected donations, including 40 new nets from Cleve’s Bayers Lake, and are doing what they can to fix up the hoops wherever they go.
Gibson says the new nets make a big difference.
“Nobody likes to play on a naked rim. It doesn't have the same feel as when there's a net on the court,” says Gibson.
“When you hear the ball go through, you want to hear that swish, it just gives you confidence you know?”
MacDonald and Gibson have also purchased rims and reached out to schools and the city to try to have cracks in the cement fixed and more garbage cans installed.