Labour Day Weekend in Saskatchewan is not only football-focused but also serves as a time for budding basketball enthusiasts to hone their skills. A group of high school students in Queen City, trading the usual excitement for textbooks and classrooms, are marking the back-to-school season in a distinctly different fashion: they’re participating in a HoopLife camp to sharpen their basketball prowess during the off season.
A majority of these young athletes are not first timers at the HoopLife sessions. Their continued commitment, though aimed at improving their basketball skills, isn’t simply about racking up impressive scores, according to Coach Isaiah Merk. For Merk, the sports field offers more profound lessons that are applicable in the grander scheme of life.
“Sports have endowed me with significant life lessons that continue to shape my life: the importance of hard work, of pushing one’s boundaries, of maintaining good health,” reflects Merk, who credits these lessons in guiding him to his current place in life and helping him sustain his career.
The HoopLife camp in question is a specialized one, designed meticulously for athletes of high school level. This makes it an ideal fit for many of the young participants who have been associated with the program since their early years.
Boston Hickey, one of the camp’s athletes, vividly recalls his early interactions with the sport. “I was just four, barely able to dribble a ball. Now, a few years down the line, I’m one of the top scorers in the HoopLife league,” says Hickey, crediting the camp for his substantial progress.
With the kick-off of another academic year, some of these young athletes are transitioning into their freshman year of high school. For many, basketball serves as a solace, offering an escape from the anxiety-inducing first day.
In Coach Merk’s words, the essence of partaking in the camps transcends beyond the sport itself. “It’s about the lessons they learn from basketball,” he emphasizes. Hickey adds to Merk’s sentiment, asserting that there isn’t much to find fault with in basketball, because eventually, “the ball comes back to you.”