TORONTO,ON–Canada Basketball (CB) today unveiled the Youth Advisory Council, a new initiative targeting the nation’s top young players to help advance basketball development both at the domestic and international level. Created as a sub-committee of the Council of Excellence, the Canada Basketball Youth Advisory Council (CBYAC) is an eight-person unit focusing on the youth program areas and meeting the needs of Canada’s young top athletes and coaches.
“We recognize the importance of bringing together basketball experts who are all committed to assisting the next generation of basketball talent following the Canadian Sport for Life Model (CS4L),” stated Wayne Parrish, Executive Director and CEO of Canada Basketball. “Canada is one of the top young programs in the world, with the girl’s and boy’s national programs currently ranked third and sixth respectively (based on FIBA ranking). The Youth Advisory Council is our way of ensuring that we continue to build on these successes by concentrating on three key areas: athlete development, life skills and coach development.”
Showcasing some of the best and brightest minds in Canadian basketball, the CBYAC is comprised of three honoured members in the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame, seven decorated national team staff and alumni, and two current members of the Council of Excellence.
The eight members of the CBYAC include legendary Canadian university coaches Steve Konchalski and Kathy Shields; celebrated national team athletes Bev Smith and Rowan Barrett; dedicated national team staffers Anne-Marie Thuss and Mireille Beland; and basketball sportscaster, Toronto Raptors play-by-play announcer and former University of Western Ontario assistant coach, Paul Jones. CIAU Men’s Basketball Champion and Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Greg Walker rounds out the CBYAC committee.
“The Youth Advisory Council will serve to be another resource for the development of our young athletes and coaches at the Cadet(te) and Junior International levels,” stated Shields. “Through their leadership and experience, it is hoped Canada will be able to build a deeper pool of identified athletes and coaches which will serve to assist our National teams’ performances on the world stage.”
A former Canadian Women’s National Team player and head coach, Kathy Shields is probably best known for her outstanding contributions as head coach with the University of Victoria Vikes Women’s basketball team. Under her leadership the squad earned eight Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championships and 14 Canada West titles. Konchalski, a member of CB’s Council of Excellence, became the winningest coach in the CIS during his 35th season (2009-10) with a career record of 755 wins and 403 losses (.652). “Coach K” also served on the coaching staff for the Canadian Men’s National program for 20 years, including a four-year term as head coach from 1995-1998. Both Konchalski and Shields were inducted into Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame for their contributions in coaching, 1993 and 2003 respectively.
Bev Smith is also a distinguished Hall of Fame honouree. Inducted as a player in 2001, Smith was arguably the best female basketball player Canada has ever produced. A two-time Olympian, she was a member of Canada’s Senior Women’s National Team from 1978-1988 and 1992-1996 and during her career helped lead Canada to a third-place finish at the 1979 and 1989 Pan American Games, as well as the 1979 and 1986 World Championships, and a fourth-place finish at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. Smith switched to becoming head coach of the Canadian Senior Women’s National Team from 1997-2001, capturing a silver at the 1999 Pan American Games and a 10th-place finish at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She returned to her alma mater as head coach of the Oregon Ducks from 2001-2009.
Barrett, a 17-year veteran with Team Canada, is Canada Basketball’s new Director of Youth Player Development. Having been a product of Canada Basketball’s national elite pathway, Rowan has lived through many experiences first-hand. He attended St. John’s University (1992-1996) and went on to play professionally overseas for 10 years in Spain, Israel, Greece and France. With the national team program, Barrett worked his way up from the junior squad (U19) starting in 1991, the development team (U21) in 1993 and senior team from 1995-2008. The 6’5″ guard is part of Canada’s ‘century club’, having played more than 115 games for the red and white, including the World University Games(1993), the FIBA World Championship (1998) and the 2000 Olympic Games.
Mireille Beland, the athletic director at Vanier College also served as the assistant coach for the 2010 Cadette Women’s National Team that competed in the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship. Anne-Marie Thuss, a team manager for the Senior Women’s National Team since 2001, has also served on the coaching staff at institutions like McMaster and York University.
Paul Jones currently serves and the Toronto Raptors play-by-play announcer for Sportsnet Radio The FAN 590. He also appears on Hoops, a weekly basketball radio show co-hosted by Eric Smith. Jones has also served as studio analyst and sideline reporter on Rogers Sportsnet, TSN and CTV. As a basketball player, Jones won three provincial titles (1978, 1980-81) at York University and was a two-time Ontario All Star. He represented Canada at the Commonwealth Basketball Tournament, earning a silver medal. Jones brings great youth leadership to the CBYAC, having served as an assistant coach with the University of Western Ontario and working with the Toronto District School Board for 22 years, most notably as a principal.
Greg Walker is a product of the Canadian basketball system, achieving success at the university level by being named a CIAU First Team All Star and winning a CIAU Championship with the Brandon University Bobcats (1995-96). Walker also competed with the Canadian Men’s Team at the Jones Cup. He gives back to the sport he loves, volunteering as a coach with the Toronto Basketball Association.
The CBYAC will provide guidance and oversight on the philosophy, development and review process of Canada Basketball’s Train to Train (11-15 females, 12-16 males) and Train to Compete (15-18 females, 16-18 males) stages of the Canadian Sport for Life Model.
Domestically, the CBYAC will focus on existing programs such as the Targeted Athlete Strategy, U15 National Championships, U17 National Championships, Canada Games, Centre for Performance, Regional Training Centres and Sport School and Academy programs (pilot roll out in Quebec September 2011). On the international stage, the CBYAC will play an integral role in the national team programs for FIBA / FIBA Americas competitions focusing on the Cadet(te) (U16-U17) and Junior (U18-U19) age groups.
In addition to competitions, the CBYAC will also provide guidance on talent recruitment and identification, physical development and technical development that is appropriate for the Train to Train and Train to Compete athletes on the high performance path.
The Youth Advisory Council will provide input on coaching development and mentorship for elite coaches at the Train to Train and Train to Compete stages. Canada Basketball is looking to provide experience and support in preparation, planning and debriefing to Canadian coaches operating at the international level.
“The timing of the new Youth Council is ideal as we look to build on the development of our young players and coaches,” added Parrish. “With the introduction of new youth international basketball competitions like the Cadet(te) World Championships, it is clear to see that there is a global shift towards youth basketball development. With this vibrant and talented assembly of basketball experts we can provide a holistic and dynamic infrastructure to engage our young talent and prepare them for international success.”
In 2011, Canada Basketball’s Cadet(te) National Teams will begin the journey to the world stage with the FIBA Americas U16 Championships for men and women. Placement in these events will guarantee a berth to the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships. The Junior National Teams will both be competing in the 2011 U19 FIBA World Championships. The men’s event takes place June 30-July 10 in Latvia while the women’s tournament takes place July 20-30 in Chile.