County Clippers ready to rebound

This story was published in the Fall 2022 edition of Total Sports Quinte magazine

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

The County Clippers youth basketball organization welcomes players back for another season for both rep and finally house league as well.

President Rob Garden helped launch the Clippers program back in 2007 as a way to grow the sport of basketball in Prince Edward County. Initially they had about 20 house league players in grades seven and eight before the program grew during the next 13 years to involve more than 300 kids playing rep and house league.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought on questions about the future of Clippers basketball. “Would we be starting from scratch when we returned? Would kids and families want to come back? There were so many unknowns,” Garden said. “We’re thrilled to report that kids and families are not only coming back, but the demand is higher than ever before.”

More than 100 kids in August had already registered for rep tryouts, which were held in September. The Clippers are also looking to run some rookie league sessions for children in kindergarten to grade three during the winter months.

House league for children in kindergarten through grade eight will be returning in March 2023.

“The main reason we had so much success in the first 13 years of our program was the amazing people that were involved: players, families, coaches, executive committee, sponsors, and youth volunteers,” Garden said. “It’s really heartwarming and encouraging to see that the strong foundation we built might have bent during COVID, but it certainly didn’t break, and we’re coming back stronger and more determined than ever.”

Clippers executive members and coaches are excited to get the rep season going, especially with five teams expected to compete this year, including under-10 boys and girls, under-12 boys and girls and under-14 boys and girls. Talk about a rebound from last year. McCourt, who looks after the rep teams as the organization’s vicepresident of Ontario Basketball Association affairs. “Rob Garden and the executive have worked hard to try and set up opportunities for kids in the area. Gyms are booked, we have some new coaches who are excited to work with new teams. I think kids and families are excited to get back to normal and being physically active and participating in sport. We will have two U10 teams who have never played organized rep basketball before.”

Coaches were announced for the upcoming season and are: U10 girls – Drew Wollenberg U10 boys – Tyler Maracle U12 boys – Eli Carlone U12 girls – Nathan Vader U14 girls – Samantha Boardley U14 boys – Jamie McCourt

There wasn’t expected to be a U12 girls team this season until Vader stepped up.

McCourt is pleased to have all the new coaches aboard.

“These coaches have various coaching and playing experience, but it is exciting to have new faces and new blood in the program,” he remarked. “They are all really excited to help develop basketball in the County. All of the coaches have worked with local kids through camps or programs this summer.”

McCourt added the Clippers are planning to run a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) coaches course this fall. Watch the organization’s website and Facebook page (@countyclippers) for details.

“This is a chance for coaches from surrounding areas to come and get their certification as well,” McCourt said.