The task at hand isn’t an easy one.
Still, it’s a challenge.
And challenge is what motivates Jim Watters.
The Miramichi resident is the new president of Basketball New Brunswick and although the ink is still drying on his commitment to the provincial association, there are a number of items Watters wants to tackle in his first year at the helm.
Mark down coaching development at the top of his to do list.
“Basketball New Brunswick has to be committed to coaching development and that has to be a priority for our board,” said Watters, who teaches at Miramichi Valley High School. “We need to give our basketball coaches the skills and resources they need regardless of what level of play they’re working with. It is extremely important our coaches continue to increase their knowledge of the game.”
Watters, who has his National Coaching Certification Program level III, fully understands many in the province may not attain that ranking when it comes to coaching prowess.
From the dedicated volunteer who has puppy division children to the high school coach in rural New Brunswick, it’s all about learning and evolving. If BNB can continue to stress the importance of coaching development, it will spawn creative ideas that will be passed on to the players.
It can be time consuming and evolve into much more than four hours a week on the court at practice or games.
But it can be rewarding.
That’s what Watters wants to stress.
“We have so many dedicated volunteers, but we also want to see new faces, perhaps younger people who have been away from the game and are looking to get back into basketball as a coach or assistant coach,” Watters said. “BNB needs to constantly evolve. We’re not going to solve everything in one year, but the groundwork needs to be there to start building.”
Watters has over 25 years of basketball experience behind him as he sets forth with a number of new BNB executive and board members.
He has played, officiated, coached and been a past BNB board member. The range of experience goes from beginner’s programs to head coach at the provincial under-16 level. Watters is now involved with BNB’s Elite Development Program in Northern New Brunswick, a new initiative designed for coaches to teach athletes similar systems to allow for common goals when provincial teams are selected for summer events.
Communication is critical.
“We’re seeing the number of children involved in basketball grow in a number of areas and we’re also seeing the other side where some associations are seeing a decline in numbers,” said Watters, who is also vice president of the Miramichi Hoops Booster Association. “We want to really make BNB a recognizable association and put children in a position where they want to wear New Brunswick jerseys. It’s not all about the elite level. We fully understand there is a need for the recreational player, but there are a lot of us board to create more of an understanding of what BNB does. We can’t just be the umbrella group for all of our associations. We need to become leaders in promoting the game and developing basic skills. It’s where it all starts at the grassroots level. Let’s let the children know there are opportunities to increase their game, their passion and their development.”
With BNB hosting the under-15 and under-17 girls’ national championships next summer in Fredericton, Watters really wants to see younger players exposed to that level of play.
A mini aged player can look up to a bantam player who looks up to under-15 players and so on down the line.
“It’s important that children have the opportunity to see higher levels of basketball,” he said. “It allows them the chance to understand what they need to do in an effort to try and understand what elite basketball looks like. We want them to some day aspire to play at that level and represent New Brunswick on the floor.”
BNB is not just about youth development, either.
It has a plethora of learn to play, mini, bantam, midget and juvenile for younger players and continues with a number of divisions for men and women at the intermediate, masters and even great grandmasters.
It’s all designed to start children playing, foster development as teenagers and become attached to the game as they leave university, start working, build families and start another generation of young players.
“Ideally we want to see more expansion of associations in our province so we can develop more players,” he said. “We can key on coaching development, referee development and, of course, player development. We are up against any number of obstacles when it comes to bringing in players. Other sports not traditionally opposing the basketball season are going head-to-head with our game. We need to recognize and make basketball an attractive option. That’s where BNB wants to get to and that’s where we plan to be down the road. The work starts now.”
For further information on BNB, please view www.basketball.nb.ca