Coming from Calgary, Alberta, Rise Up Hoops will be making their first trip to Bballnationals at the Langley Events Centre later this month.
“I think it’s great exposure for the girls to go out and see more competition on the west side, and see what kind of competition they have on the BC side. Just to get our name out there and get exposure for the program as well, especially for the girls program,” says Rise Up director and co-founder Kelvin Dela Peña, who is bringing his U15 girls team.
“As a program director, as athletes, you always want to prove yourself, you want to see if we are at par with the competition that’s around us.”
While it is Rise Up’s first year at Bballnationals, a number of clubs in Calgary participate in it regularly, and Dela Peña has heard good things.
“A good pool of teams come out and it’s good competition.”
Rise Up began in 2015, and initially Dela Peña didn’t have visions of a big training program.
“To be honest with you, I just wanted to train kids,” says Dela Peña, who played university ball with the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary and in the Philippines, before going pro, playing in the Philippine Basketball Association and ASEAN Basketball League.
“Honestly, we started off with six kids, training a bunch of kids that got cut from high school, and I started training these kids and they got better and they ended up making their teams. And then the year after, it’s kind of a Cinderella story, some of the kids made the senior and ended up winning provincials Alberta,” he says.
“And then from there, we saw significant results and positive results, and from there it blew up, and all these kids wanted to train and six turned to 12, 12 turned to 30, and now we’re going in and we have about 11 teams, and with our other programs, we have close to 400 or 500 kids a year.
“It’s been a blessing.”
It’s a busy summer for Rise Up, with trips to Vegas planned for some teams and an overseas trip for the older kids lined up.
Bballnationals is a big part of that summer for the U15 girls.
“We want to establish ourselves as a top program,” says Dela Peña. “It’s very important to get the name out and to get these girls exposed to that kind of competition.”
Spots are still available for Bballnationals, which goes from July 29th to August 5th at the Langley Events Center. The registration deadline has been extended to July 15th.
Written by: Austin Cozicar