Basketball PEI Executive Director Trent Whitty started his basketball career as a player. “I began playing when I was 10 years old. My older brother Josh influenced me to participate. I had a lot of fun playing the sport during junior and senior high school, and it allowed me to meet people who remain great friends.”
After high school, he switched from playing to coaching at the junior, senior high, and provincial levels.
During his second year at UPEI, Trent decided on a teaching career, while continuing to coach. He also worked in a student position at UPEI as a scorecard keeper for the basketball games.
After earning his Bachelors of Education from UPEI in 2013, he spent four and a half years in the secondary educational system as a substitute teacher. “I was still coaching while substituting when I was offered a temporary teaching contract. Around the same time, the Executive Director position at Basketball PEI was advertised. I was immediately interested in the job because I saw it as an opportunity for more secure work in a field I enjoyed.”
“The communication skills I gained from teaching have transferred nicely to my present work,” he says. “The networks created from teaching in the schools and the basketball coaching and promoting I still do at the schools were valuable experience.”
From the Island Storm to junior and senior high school, college and university, basketball is huge on PEI. The sport’s popularity is boosted in part by Basketball PEI, the non-profit organization which represents the Island’s amateur basketball interests.
“Basketball PEI is primarily into youth development and some recreational activities for adults,” says Trent. “Our membership is made up of athletes, coaches, officials, member clubs, minor basketball associations, leagues and basketball supporters.”
There are also programs for children from kindergarten to grade 6. Once they enter junior high, players can take the High Performance Program and play school basketball as well.
The 13 and 14 year-old players focus on development, and play some local and regional tournaments. “As they get to ages 16 and 17, they go to national competitions. Our 17 year-old players are part of the provincial team at the Canada Summer Games.”
“In order to become trained and certified, we offer National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) courses. We try to offer a course every six or eight weeks, but the challenge is we don’t have a lot of facilitators to teach the courses and the other challenge is not attracting enough coaches to take the course. I certainly encourage teenagers to go into coaching. They may have time to also get into refereeing, administering, and other duties involved in the sport.”
Partner association PEI Basketball Officials Association (PEIBOA) is for referees. “If there are no referees for a game, the game gets cancelled,” says Trent. “There is a lot of interest in playing and coaching, but people seem to be hesitant to officiate. To gain experience, teenage referees can do the mini-basketball level.”
Coaches who work at the university, college and professional levels are compensated, but most people involved with basketball on PEI are volunteers. “Basketball PEI offers small honorariums to coaches in our high-performance programs, but the work is primarily volunteer-based.”
Other roles vital to basketball include scorecard keepers and volunteer administrators for the minor associations. “If you are a basketball enthusiast, volunteering in this position is a good fit. You will get to see kids play and grow in the sport.
“Volunteer experience in sports is a great way to give back to the community, you make good networking connections, and it looks good on a resumé for anyone wanting a career in sport and recreation,” Trent says.
For more information about Basketball PEI, call Trent Whitty at 902-368-4986 or 1-800-247-6712. Visit www.basketballpei.ca or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.