Emma Tomchuk and Emma Deibert dedicated most of their summer vacation to athletic development, playing for Basketball Manitoba’s under-16 and under-17 provincial teams, respectively.
Following an intense tryout session in late May, which feature more than 300 athletes from across the province, these two R.D. Parker Collegiate students made the cut and would serve as practice players for their teams through the next three months in Winnipeg.
At first, the pair said they were a little intimidated by this setup, since their fellow participants far exceeded them in skill and, in Tomchuk’s case at least, size.
“At first I didn’t know what to expect,” said Tomchuk, who was the only Northern Manitoban on this year’s U16 team. “I just knew I had to work hard if I wanted to compete with those girls, because a lot of them play club basketball, which is all year round.”
Thankfully, both Deibert and Tomchuk said their teammates and the coaching staff were very welcoming and more than willing to help them elevate their game throughout those three months.
“Sometimes I felt a little bit out of my element,” said Deibert. “But I was just so glad to be there, so glad to experience and to learn and be around that high level of basketball.”
The RDPC students said this higher compete level eventually paid off, since they both walked away from this program in August with a few new tricks up their sleeves.
Tomchuk said she noticed a big improvement in her passing, pace on the court and offensive game overall.
Meanwhile, Deibert learned some new styles of play and even stepped up her one-on-one game.
“We also went to strength and conditioning training and it was very helpful,” said Tomchuk. “Not only am I learning new skills but I’m training my body to becoming stronger. That will help in different sports too, not just basketball.”
But this program wasn’t all hard work on the court, since the coaches often encouraged team bonding through extracurricular activities.
“Every week we went somewhere outside of the basketball and we became more of a family,” said Tomchuk. “We were always texting each other, talking to each other and we made so many memories.”
After soaking in all three months of this development program, Tomchuk and Deibert are heading back to school in Thompson where they will get the opportunity to put these new skills to good use.
Outside of playing basketball, both girls are also planning to pick up where they left off on the RDPC Trojans soccer team, which placed fifth at provincials last fall.
The pair said their anticipation for this year of high school athletics couldn’t be any higher after coming off such a memorable experience with Basketball Manitoba.
“That was definitely a fun time,” said Deibert. “My confidence definitely went up and I’m super excited to play at school this year.”