League focuses on developing skills

AT 12 years old Mitchell Ostler already has a good understanding of teamwork.

"A good team is one that listens, cooperates and is aware of each other," he notes.

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Mitchell has been playing basketball since he was four years old, and says he enjoys the challenge of basketball, and the satisfaction of winning. He admits he's a "pretty decent" player.

"A good basketball player knows how to lead and cooperate with their team," he says via email.

Mitchell plays in the Steve Nash Youth Basketball League along with his younger brothers, Nicholas, 10, and Owen, seven.

The league is part of Basketball B.C., and has been operating on the North Shore for about 10 years. It was originally a development program started by the Vancouver Grizzlies, but when the former NBA team left Vancouver, popular Canadian point guard Steve Nash became involved in the set-up. There are numerous Steve Nash Youth Basketball League teams across the Lower Mainland.

Here on the North Shore, the North Vancouver division, which plays out of Delbrook recreation centre, recently merged with the West Vancouver league to form one league. As part of that merger, the Delbrook league has added a division for kids in grades twothree.

The league is open to any boys and girls in grades twonine, and they are accepting up to 400 players for the upcoming season, which runs from midSeptember to late February, with a mini-tournament at the end of the regular season. In March, the league puts together a select team to play in a tournament of Steve Nash league teams from across the Lower Mainland.

Richard Ostler, father of Mitchell, Nicholas and Owen, is president of the North Shore league, and says it's all about developing skills.

"This league is for all skill levels. We have excellent players and we have developing players," he explains. "It's intended to grow and develop the fundamentals of basketball."

Teams have one practice and one game each week. There are also some special rules for the youngest players, including playing half-court defence instead of full-court defence, which "gives kids the opportunity to bring the ball up, keep their head up, look to plan out their strategy, plan out where they're going to pass the ball," says Richard. He notes that you don't have to be tall to play basketball, but being quick helps, as does understanding the game and having good ball sense. He says the development league is a great opportunity for great players to excel and new players to learn how to play.

The early registration deadline for the upcoming season is June 30. For more information or to register visit the website at www. delbrookbasketball.com.

rduane@nsnews.com

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