Basketball workouts popular with kids
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | July 21, 2016|
Fifteen-year-old McCaley Campbell travels from Brooklyn, ON, to Haliburton every week.
She and her father often grab a bite to eat while absorbing the beautiful scenery, but it’s not the main reason they visit.
A two-hour basketball workout at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School gymnasium is their primary destination.
The summer workouts are in their fourth year and are led by Haliburton volunteers Gordon Cochrane, Dan LaPierre and Jane
McCaley is the only girl who attends and, so far, is the participant who travels the furthest.
But it’s worth it, she says.
“I’m OK being the only girl here,” McCaley said after a workout last Friday. “The coaches are very nice, and it’s nice having a different coach, because every year I get the same one in high school.”
What began as some casual workouts on the blacktop basketball court next to the high school in 2012 has blossomed into a constructive work out session that is free of charge for children between the ages of 11 and 18, every Wednesday and Friday.
Cochrane said the lack of opportunities to play basketball outside of the school environment motivated him to organize something for youth.
“I approached a couple (of) guys at first and asked if workouts in the summer were something they would want to come out to,” he said, adding one of those players was this year’s Red Hawks captain, Hunter Smith, who helped lead the senior team to a silver medal at the Central Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association’s (COSSA) tournament at HHSS.
The team’s 6-1 regular season record and triple-overtime victory against I.E. Weldon High School earlier this year sent waves across the Kawartha West conference and set the stage perfectly for the COSSA showdown at home.
The transition from the outdoor blacktop to the smooth indoor court was a major evolution of the workout program, Cochrane said.
“For two years, we had all of these sessions outside,” he chuckled.
But with the help of the municipality and its recreation program coordinator, Andrea Mueller, the indoor space was finally secured last year, and Cochrane finally had permission to run practices free of charge.
“Gordon really wanted to keep the program free for youth,” Mueller said. “Without him, this program wouldn’t be possible.”
Arthroscopic surgery on his right knee has slowed Cochrane down, but it hasn’t kept him from being as hands-on as possible during practice sessions.
He walks through basketball fundamentals and stops the drill when he sees something that needs to be addressed.
“Make sure you’re taking off with your right foot!” he yells during a layup drill.
Cochrane said he hopes the program continues to draw young athletes. He has already noticed a growing interest in basketball in Haliburton.
“The natural outgrowth of that is better players and better teams,” he said. “We want to feed into that and see the growth continue.”
Practices run every Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. The final session will be Aug. 19
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.