Commitment to excellence

PLAYERS from the Columbia Gorge Youth Academy Basketball program gather around coach Bob Townsend during a timeout in recent tournament action last month. Five teams with kids ranging from the third-through-eighth grades participated in tournaments in the Portland/Vancouver, Wash. area as well as playing some home games in The Dalles versus various teams.

Through the success and development of youth players, the goal of the Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy is to build a feeder program for varsity programs in the future.

The youth boys’ basketball teams recently completed their second season of winter competition and program founder Bob Townsend was pleased with what he saw from those groups.

“We saw tremendous growth in all of our teams,” Townsend said. “I know all of the coaches felt that the experience was very rewarding. When working with kids at these age levels, we see drastic improvements in short time frames.”

In all, there were five teams with youth athletes ranging from the third-through-eighth grades participating in several tournaments in the Portland/Vancouver, Wash. areas as well as some home games in The Dalles versus various teams.

Daniel Bonham coached the eighth grade team, current TD head girls’ hoops coach Dan Telles coached the seventh grade team, Greg Cummings instructed the fifth and sixth graders and Townsend coached the remaining two teams.

All of the teams practiced twice a week from the end of November to the first week in March.

Townsend said that although the games are exciting for the boys to participate in, the practices are where coaches and athletes really see the most progression.

There is an emphasis on fundamentals, execution, ball movement and team chemistry that is involved with every player that steps on the hardwood.

“Not only can we see the improvements in our youth, I think the most beneficial measuring stick will be seen in the high school program when we start having athletes that will have participated in the Academy from the fourth-to-eighth grade levels,” Townsend added.

Across the landscape of those five squads formed, the participation numbers saw an uptick to 42 area athletes, ranging in all skill sets.

It has been a process of teaching and learning, which is paramount to achieving a higher standard.

“We now believe the Academy is a very sustainable organization, and something that can serve as a valuable resource for promoting basketball within the gorge area,” Townsend said.

With two solid years of building the hoops foundation, Townsend said CGBA will now be looking to pursue official status as a Non-Profit Organization and look to expand the role of the organization.

Currently, CGBA has managed travelling teams for third-through-eighth graders, participated in a high school fall league, run individual skill sessions, and a high school training camp.

From the parents, coach, players and community members, this undertaking has established a prominent baseline with continued growth placed at the forefront.

“Through a collaborative effort with local volunteer coaches and high school coaching staff, we are hopeful that the Academy can continue to grow,” Townsend said.

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