Sol Rangel isn’t above a little motivational chat to encourage son Brady toward a healthy, active lifestyle.
“I drill it into him,” the elder Rangel confessed Saturday morning at Glendale’s community gym during a break from scorekeeping and coaching. “I drill it into him.”
The message is coming through loud and clear to Brady, who despite being a hockey man first, thoroughly enjoys his time on Tillsonburg’s OBA atom basketball team.
“It motivates me to play more sports and keeps me out of video games and staying inside for the weekend.”
As persuasive as his father’s voice may be, Brady is operating under even more effective encouragement from elder brother – and role model Kieran, a member of the Tillsonburg Gemini junior boys basketball team.
“I try to be like him because he has good grades, he’s a good brother and he’s athletic like I want to be.”
Motivation may be different – and still similar – for each player on the roster. Despite the fact dad is around 5’10” at maturity and mom has topped out at 5’7”, 11-year-old Dylan Dekeyzer’s 5’9” stature stands out as a natural fit for a basketball court.
“I’m the lucky one,” smiled Dekeyzer, who has been playing and loving basketball since he was ‘about nine.
“It’s always moving and never stops,” he said, adding it’s a great way to participate with friends. “And maybe win a couple of games.”
Co-coaches Rangel and Dione Hussey have their own motivation. Apart from encouraging healthy activity, athletic friendships in their own children and beyond, fun and another winter sports alternative, there is the incentive provided by Mike Demaree’s recent and very successful OBA program and its translations to the high school level.
“Let’s get it going again and keep it running,” said Hussey, in reference to Tillsonburg’s basketball tradition.
The effort began three years ago with a focus on fundamentals, said Sol Rangel.
“Learning how to shoot, dribble and play defence.”
“Some have come, some have gone, but there is a core group of nine who have kind of stuck with us for all three games,” Hussey added.
The OBA season begins in the fall (September or October), running through until April, featuring hour-and-a-half practices Mondays and Wednesdays and between 15 or 20 exhibition and tournament games. OBA atom rules stipulate four-minute fair play (equal time) shifts for each player.
“A few years ago they could barely dribble up the court,” said Hussey. “Today, they’re setting screens, they’re running plays, they’re moving the ball with patience for the most part.
“They’ve come a long ways in three years.”
And while declining to declare a precise won-lost record for this year’s squad (whose furious comeback in its first game against London that morning was within a basket of completion), Hussey did confirm it has ‘won more games this year than the last two,’ including a silver medal at an Ancaster tournament, a two-point overtime loss away from gold.
No champion was declared at Saturday’s four-team round-robin event at Glendale.
“They can do that themselves,” said Hussey. “They see it by the scores.”
The kids’ competitive nature comes out in a game she added, and the fun which is such a vital component of the experience, with it.
“That’s a biggie, that’s a biggie,” she concluded. “If they’re not having fun, they’re not going to come back.”