Spirits are high for local girls basketball

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

Following a successful 2022-2023 campaign, the Belleville Spirits girls basketball program will look to continue that momentum into next season.

Three Spirits teams captured provincial gold – U16 in Division 1, U14 and U19B in Division 5 – while the U19A team placed third in the highest OBLX level.

Club president Erin Rose grew up playing basketball in the Bay of Quinte league, then for the Spirits and at Loyalist College. She wants to see the sport continue to grow for local girls.

“Saying that I love basketball is an understatement. When you fall in love with a sport, you see the positive impacts on so many aspects of your life. I’m grateful for what this sport helped me become as a teacher, coach, mom and overall confident, healthy, active female,” Rose said.

“When I look around, especially at the younger ages, I see passion in our area building for this sport. This upcoming rep season, it’s looking like we may have the most teams ever for the girls’ Spirits program. In our area last year, multiple high schools started up house leagues again after years of not being able to offer it and each school had massive success for registration and turnout.”

Rose said the Spirits program is fortunate to have quality coaches to develop the young athletes. She does hope to see local high school basketball grow within the Bay of Quinte loop with more participation and increased talent.

“Prioritizing high school sport is imperative to helping engage students and create a positive school culture and experience,” she said.

The Spirits offer rep basketball for ages nine to 19. In fact, there was a U10 team for the first time this past season thanks to the help of local passionate basketball advocate and coach Geordie Mitchell.

Rose encourages any interested players to just give it a try, even if they have never tried out for a rep team before. More players could mean more teams and there could be skill clinics available for any young athletes experiencing nerves.

“We hope to bring new faces and talent into the gym,” Rose said. “Clinics aren’t as intimidating to get players into the gym to try out a sport and then hopefully they will want to try out for the team, too.

Tryouts will begin in September and for older groups continue into October. The Spirits will be offering intro to basketball sessions, starting Sept. 11, for athletes in Grades 4 to 6 that will focus on dribbling, passing, shooting, defence, footwork and more.

All the tryout dates and clinics will be posted at bellevillespirits.com as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Any questions about registration, tryouts and more can be sent to bellevillespiritscomm@gmail.com.

House league basketball will also be offered this fall.

Rose stressed the importance of girls playing sports with the benefits evident as they grow into adulthood with positive self-image, body confidence, healthy relationship development and leadership development.

Basketball is one of the more affordable rep sports to play locally, Rose said, noting the organization can always use more financial support to make that possible for players.

“If any businesses are looking to sponsor a sports team or organization this year, we would love any and all support possible from the community,” she said. “All sponsorship money goes directly to teams to support tournament costs, clothing, gym fees, team bonding activities and even the year end banquet.”

Rose said support from the community during the pandemic helped the Spirits continue to develop girls basketball.

“With the support of community spaces like the Trenton and Belleville YMCA as well as the Calvary Church, we were able to keep our programs running and our girls remaining active. We were unable to use the schools for practice spaces and the community stood behind us and gave us the space we needed,” Rose said. “It made a difference. Not just in maintaining momentum as a basketball program, but it gave our kids a sense of normalcy when that was needed. I strongly believe it helped our success this year and last year. We may have paused a few times during Covid, but we never stopped. We even had virtual workouts through Pure Grit Crossfit offered to our athletes in order to keep them healthy both in mind and body.

“I’m thankful for our community who supported us and allowed our sport and our program to not only rebound but soar.”

Check out bellevillespirits.com

The Belleville Spirits Basketball Club strives to assist our players in reaching their maximum potential, both as basketball players and citizens of our community.

Our players will learn that they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. They will learn to win with humility and lose with grace. They will learn to see opportunities instead of obstacles. They will learn that nothing worth achieving comes without hard work. They will develop the self-confidence to take on any challenge that will face them, both on and off the basketball court.