The 2014 Arctic Winter Games are four months away, but Team Yukon is already beginning to take shape.
The selection process for Yukon’s basketball teams is over and the rosters were submitted to Sport Yukon on Saturday. They are the first squads selected for the Yukon contingent that will compete at the Games next March in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The women’s team is young and perhaps a little short in stature, but they make up for that with athleticism and determination, said head coach Nicole Schroeder.
“We look pretty good,” said Schroeder. “We have two girls who are in Grade 8, a couple in Grade 9 and 10, and one in Grade 11 and three in Grade 12. So we’re a little younger than some of the other teams probably will be.
“But we have some really athletic girls and a lot of girls who are keen to learn. We have great leadership on our team as well. So it looks like we’re going to have a good season.”
“We have a very well-rounded team,” she added. “We have lots of girls who are able to bring up the ball confidently. The one thing we are lacking is a little bit of height, but our girls are so athletic that it doesn’t concern me.”
The men’s team is also on the young side for the 18-and-under tournament, with a couple Grade 9 and 10 players. They will need to play a smart game and use their speed, said head coach Tim Brady.
“We have some relatively new players and some young guys and a couple guys who have been there before,” said Brady. “So we’re really going to try to develop a character of being a hard-working, intense, defence-orientated group that plays with a lot of energy, a lot of effort for the full game
“We don’t have a lot of size. We’re relatively small, in fact. We’re going to need to do a lot of things well and consistently.
“We’re going to have to work on our defence, gaining possession of the basketball, rebounding, boxing out. Making those types of things really important to us.
“I think we’re going to have to play really fast as well. We have some quick guys so we’ll try to utilize our speed a bit.”
Both teams contain players from Yukon’s gold-winning teams at the 2012 Arctic Games in Whitehorse.
Yukon’s women’s team has three returning players with Quynh Nguyen, Galena Roots and Jacy Sam.
The men’s team includes returners Bryan Hermosa and Chris Carino. Hermosa and Josh Tobias – who is also on the team – represented Yukon on the hardwood at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, B.C.
Next March will be Brady’s eighth time coaching a team at the Arctic Games. He was head coach for the golden team in 2012 and for Yukon’s first-ever gold-winning men’s team in 2000.
Schroeder is new to Team Yukon. She played university ball for Brandon University and University of Northern British Columbia in her hometown of Prince George. She spent three years teaching in Kuwait before moving to the territory at the end of the summer.
Both Yukon teams plan to compete in tournaments in the New Year with the women heading to Vancouver and the men to Camrose, Alta.
“We’ll try to get some games with Haines, Alaska – we’re still trying to set the dates for those,” said Brady. “We’ll probably go to one more tournament in February.”
The team trials began on Oct. 11 and 12 and were followed by training squads for four weeks before the final selections were made. Neither team has named a captain.
“I really like the guys on this squad, they’re a terrific group of young men,” said Brady. “They’ve been working hard, they’re very likable guys, and I know they’ll represent the Yukon very well.”
Yataya Van Kampen
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