There’s something special about the game of basketball. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a brand new court, or an old ratty one, if the floor is pavement or wood, or if you’ve got 10 players or just one — all you need is a ball, a backboard, a hoop and a net and you can play ball.
The shortest by far on my high school basketball team, I learned quickly I would be a passing guard and outside shooter. It was fine with me though because I knew I had a secret weapon at home — my own practice net on the driveway.
It wasn’t fancy but it was always there.
I loved to work on my shot. I remember playing on my driveway as a young person and while no doubt I annoyed the neighbours to no end with the ever-present sound of my bouncing ball, it was always something I could do alone or with whichever neighbourhood kids or friends came over.
The best part, though, was the cracks in the driveway: the intentional ones put there when the driveway was poured, and the cracks that appeared over time thanks to shifting and that freeze-thaw action we often get. Those cracks worked so well as a free throw line and a three point line, if I put a little imagination into it.
A kid and a basketball court. So wholesome. That’s why when I came across Cowichan’s Oliver Thompson I had to tell you what the almost-16 year old has been up to with his friend.
“I’ve lived in the Cowichan Valley for my whole life and I have always grown up playing and volunteering at the Hub community centre,” he said recently. “My mom joined the board a couple years after it got started and I got to watch the community volunteer to bring it to what it is now.”
While he never got to see the building as an actual school, he does have friends with parents that attended and he’s heard “some fun stories about it.”
Thompson and his friend Brodyn Mortimer enjoy playing basketball at the Hub’s old basketball court and last summer they decided that, while it was functional, it could definitely be spruced up.
“We weeded some of the sides of the court and Duncan Paving generously filled in some holes for us but after that the project kinda got put on hold because of school,” Thompson said. “So this year when the weather started getting better my mom told me we should finish.”
The boys wanted to do a proper job of it so they did what so many teens are good at: they went online.
“With the help of the community Facebook page, we raised money for nets, backboards and paint. There was also a donation from Brentwood College School of two used hoops,” he explained.
The Cowichan Station community in general did their best to support the boys’ initiative. The Hub community has been a big support as well. A member of the Hub’s woodworking workshop helped Thompson cut and edge the backboard and then with the help of a parent volunteer, they got one of the backboards installed.
“The second one should also be up soon depending on the weather,” Thompson said proudly. “I’d like to send a huge shout-out to the members of the Facebook page with their generous donations and enthusiasm.”
One big thing remains left to do on the project, however.
There are no lines painted on the court and the estimates they’ve received thus far have been well outside the boys’ budget.
“It’s pretty expensive,” Thompson admitted.
He’s not one to give up though.
“We can always just try and do it ourselves even if it’s a bit rough around the edges.”
Until then, the players can just use the cracks in the ground and a little bit of imagination and no doubt they’ll be just fine.