Brooke Kendal has had a tournament to remember at Bballnationals.
Her team, the VK Basketball Under-17 team just won in the All-Star Division of the tournament, and jus two days ago, Kendal won the Skills Contest in the Under-17 division.
For Kendal, who has played at Bballnationals before, getting to the top wouldn’t come without hours of work.
“I worked on my shooting,” said Kendal. “I did a lot of practice in the gym to work on my shooting and my defence to keep my hands up.”
All those extra hours working on her skills came to fruition on Day 2 of Bballnationals when Kendal won the Skills Contest. But it didn’t mean that it was easy.
“That was very nerve-wracking,” said Kendal of the Skills Contest. “But it was very exciting when I actually won it.”
“As soon as it started, I wasn’t nervous anymore; I just do what I do all the time – I just focus.”
Maybe for the first time since this year’s edition of Bballnationals began, Brooke Kendal isn’t focused on basketball – or how tired she is.
“Last night my legs were hurting a lot,” she said. Even though she understands the grind of Bballnationals, it doesn’t mean she can escape. “It’s exhausting, so I’ve been taking a lot of breaks.”
The final horn sounds and finally, Kendal can finally give her legs a break.
Her and her teammates are standing in front of their bench. Behind them, a table full of trophies, and in front, tournament staff has set up a Bballnationals backdrop for photos. Her team just won their division, beating the Jabogs from Port Coquitlam by a score of 69-49. Her teammate, Marah Dykstra, won Most Valuable Player and is getting her photo taken, but Kendal can't wait much longer. She photobombs Dykstra’s MVP photoshoot and then the rest of the girls follow. Then the parents, who pour on the floor to take pictures of their daughters. Finally, the girls get one of the trophies that was sitting on the table behind them. The bronze basketball trophy is theirs now.
For Kendal, the final game is the special in many ways. “The highlight of the tournament for me was playing against the Jabogs in the final game,” she said. But it’s not because it was the final win they needed to win the trophy.
“I play with Jabog in the offseason, when I’m not with VK,” explained Kendal. “They’re really good girls, they’re my best friends.”
Kendal made sure to speak to her Jabog friends and coach after the game. She believes her best skill is her ability to communicate on the floor, and even though she meant it in a basketball context, it’s manifesting itself in a different form. It can be attributed to what she believes she is – in her own words, a “natural born leader”.
For the next little bit, she can put these skills to use more than the basketball skills that won her the Skills Contest, but don’t be surprised if she’s back in the gym soon, getting shots up.
It probably won’t happen anytime soon though. Kendal is going to try and celebrate a great performance all throughout Bballnationals. “I’m going to get together with friends and family,” she said. “And rest.”
As exhausting as Bballnationals were, it’s a tournament she won’t forget for a long time.
By: Mohak Sood