Steel City Sports — which operates basketball and volleyball clubs for the youth of Sault Ste. Marie –will continue to provide active training in 2021.
According to Jeff Giovanatti, who is one of the directors for Steel City Sports, the new sessions are slated to begin on Monday, January 18.
Steel City Sports runs its basketball and volleyball camps and sessions in gymnasium space at the old Tech building on Wellington St. E. in the Sault’s downtown area.
Since 2013, the Steel City Slam basketball club has been providing a platform for kids to train, develop, and have fun in an active and safe environment. The program initially ran as the Sault Sharks beginning in 2004 and was re-branded to Slam in 2013.
The vision of the program continues to be to strive to connect the basketball community and establish a collaborative training environment for kids who train as high performance athletes with the goal of either playing after high school or — just as importantly — playing the sport to be active in a recreational league setting.
In 2019, Steel City Sports was established in full as the Steel City Ignite volleyball program joined forces with the Steel City Slam basketball club.
“We were very fortunate to have Becky Grisdale and Annette Lamour jump on board to initiate a club volleyball program in our community,” relayed the aforementioned Jeff Giovanatti. “Our goal is simple: we want to bring the resources in our community together to share resources and invest in the kids in our community together.
“Collaboration is key, having multiple coaches and mentors to have a positive influence on the sports community with the focus being on our athletes or in other words an athlete centered training and learning environment.
“In year one our Ignite program offered two teams and were members of the Ontario Volleyball Association. And this year, Becky and Annette have done a great job to establish five cohorts of student athletes in just the second season of existence.
“This could have not been done without also getting some tremendous group of coaches who have joined the Ignite program, some of which include Jeremy Murdoch, Cam Coulter, Steve Baum, Dave Arbuckle, Shaylene Kern, Taylor Elliott, Danielle Oak-Brown, Tiffany Richards, Hilary Prouse and Taryn Coulter,” summed up Giovanatti.
Meanwhile on the hardwood, the Steel City Slam basketball program continues to grow in terms of teams, cohorts, and coaches. The ‘Slam Fam’ offered basketball to boys and girls in grades 4-12 from September to December and looks forward to continuing to offer programming in January.
As previously noted, the program is looking to return to activity on Monday January 18 as it will undertake a quarantine shutdown for the first two weeks of the new year.
“Our first priority is providing a safe environment for our participants. We have had many conversations with Algoma Public Health and we are also fortunate to have many coaches who are well versed in APH recommendations because of their own working environment,” noted Jim Shook, who, like Giovanatti, is also one of the directors of the Steel City Sports program.
The program will feature the return of the ‘Junior NBA’, which is a Canada Basketball and NBA certified program to provide children in grades senior kindergarten, 1, 2 and grade 3 the opportunity to learn and be active through the sport of basketball.
“Our Slam program has offered Junior NBA for the past five years and we even brought the Larry O’Brien Trophy (NBA championship trophy) to Sault Ste. Marie in year one of the program.
“It is a great introductory program for kids to be active and learn about the game of basketball in small area games and individual skill development. The NBA has developed very intentional curriculum for this age group with the focus of developing a liking for the game,” noted Giovanatti.
In addition to this, the cohort development academies will continue from January until the end of March and then again from early April until June.
“We wouldn’t be where we are in terms of offering programming if it wasn’t for the tremendous group of coaches we have in our program,” Giovanatti pointed out.
Coaches of note include Joey Turco, Jamie MacDonald, Danny MacDonald, Robin Shamas, Hue Higham, Aaron Richards, Adrian Adams, Adrian Colak, Aidan Chard, John Duke, Greg MacLachlan, Dustin Jones, Kyle Dugas, Noah Creedon, Ronnie Williams, Mike McDonald and Noah Welhman — as well as some of the senior Slam boys who help out.
“For example, Max Fasulo has been a tremendous role model for our young Slam players. Max has volunteered countless hours to our under 13 boys cohort. We are fortunate to have character kids like Max in our program. Our program has only grown because of the great people that we have attracted to the program,” praised Giovanatti.
The Slam intends to offer the following basketball development academies beginning in January.
• U-11 Slam Academy: boys and girls born in 2010, 2011 and 2012 (Grades 3, 4 and 5.)
• U-13 Boys Slam Academy: boys born in 2009 and 2008 (Grades 6 and 7.)
• U-13 Girls Slam Academy: girls born in 2009 and 2008 (Grades 6 and 7.)
• U-14 Boys Slam Academy: boys born in 2007 (Grade 8.)
• U-14 Girls Slam Academy girls born in 2007 and 2008 (Grades 7 and 8.)
• U-15 Boys Slam Academy: boys born in 2006 (Grade 9.)
• U-16 Boys Slam Academy: boys born in 2005 (Grade 10.)
• U-16 Girls Slam Academy: girls born in 2005 or 2006 (Grades 9 and 10.)
• U-19 Boys Slam Academy: boys born in 2004, 2003, or 2002 (Grades 11, 12 and 12+)
• U-19 Girls Slam Academy: girls born in 2004, 2003, or 2002 (Grades 11, 12 and 12+)
• Jr. NBA: open to boys and girls in senior kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3.
“In addition, we also do individual and small group training. We specialize in skill development, athlete development, functional movements and also improving strength, speed and explosiveness, related to the sport of basketball,” Giovanatti emphasized.
HOW TO SIGN UP
For more information about the Steel City Sports programming, as in if you are interested in putting a child in the program, or coaching or mentoring, you can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the following websites.
• Steel City Sports: www.steelcitysports.ca
• Steel City Slam Basketball: www.steelcityslam.ca (to register for January programming in basketball.)
• Steel City Ignite Volleyball Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steelcityignitevball
• Steel City Slam Basketball: https://www.facebook.com/SteelCityBBall
• Steel City Slam Basketball Instagram: @steelcityslam