The development of girls basketball in the valley will get a boost next spring when UBC Okanagan’s Junior Heat joins the Prairie Elite Basketball League.
The junior Heat’s U17 team will become the eighth member of the PEBL which will begin its third season in April 2016.
The Junior Heat U15 girls will also join the PEBL as a developmental program.
The U17 league began with five teams—the University of Alberta’s junior Pandas, Calgary Junior Dinos, Lethbridge Junior Horns, Regina Junior Cougars and U of S Junior Huskies. The Heat, Grant MacEwan and Mount Royal are all joining the PEBL next spring.
“The level of competition of the PEBL league is superior to any other club tournament or league,” said UBCO Heat women’s coach Claire Meadows. “The league is structured so that players are able to play both PEBL and provincial team, which allows the best players in the western provinces to compete against each other at a very high level.”
All teams must be coached by the assistant coaches of each university.
Bobby Mitchell will coach the U17 Heat, while Kim Whelpton heads up the U15s.
“This ensures that they are receiving the highest level of coaching, which will aide in player development and also allow for players to be noticed by the university coaches of each team,” Meadows added.
While the schedule is still being finalized, Meadows said the Junior Heat will be playing at the University of Alberta in April, in Calgary in May, and at the University of Lethbridge in June.
Meadows said entrance in the new league will be big benefit to players in the region and the university.
“Hopefully it will be a big sell for players who want to come and play at this level, to get the best competition and coaching,” Meadows said. “(The junior Heat) will be running the same systems (as UBCO), they’ll already know the language and structure, so hopefully that will make the transition a natural one for them.”
“You want to be creating the best culture and program you can,” added Meadows, “and the (PEBL) will be a big part of that.”
Meadows said tryouts for the U17 and U15 junior Heat programs are expected to begin on Feb. 21.
For more information, contact Claire Meadows at firstname.lastname@example.org.