The Cochrane Eagles U13 boys’ club basketball team began with an impressive tournament win to start the spring season.
Coach and creator of the program, Kris Nielson wanted to create an inexpensive way for kids to play basketball and have fun. It’s a small, grass roots program and this is its first year.
The Eagles are made up of basketball players from the local Cochrane area.
Calgary has about 60 U13 boys’ teams playing spring league and the province has an estimated 300 U13 boys’ teams, so the Eagles weren’t sure what they would be up against when they joined the Vision Basketball Academy’s 110 team Kick Off tournament May 4-6.
“I thought we could do well so decided to go into the top A division against the best teams in Calgary and the province including CYDC Elite,” said Nielson.
The CYDC Elite program is considered by many to be the top team in the province and a top team in Canada. Many of the top programs like CYDC, Genesis and Calgary Basketball Academy have budgets in $30,000-$120,000 range and travel to compete in national and American tournaments (according to Nielson.)
Club basketball has become a big business in Calgary with full time staff and paid coaches.
“We’re not that. Our fees are as cheap as possible at $400 and we practice locally so normally it’s impossible to compete with club programs that have so many more resources and player development opportunities,” said Nielson.
When the tournament started, the other teams might have been a little shocked by how these basketball players from Cochrane performed. Not only did they do okay, they did great and won the entire thing.
In the championship game they defeated CYDC Elite 52-49.
“We had huge contributions from every player all weekend and had some big moments on the way to the championship title,” said Nielson.
“We beat Medicine Hat Golden Hawks 94-18 in the first round and then came out strong against Calgary Rise Up Hoops, pushing an early lead to over 20 before finishing the game 52-36.”
“I can’t say enough about these kids. They’re a fantastic bunch.”
The Eagles are a bunch of hardworking and ready to learn kids.
“Not only are they talented, but they are committed basketball players as well, which is nice to see. They come to every practice and want to learn more which is all you can ask for as a coach.”
“They all have high basketball intelligence and really listen and are very coachable.”
The team plays in exhibition games and tournaments and they will have a couple more games and tournaments to see how well they have been improving and if their winning keeps up.