Trying to Change the Game - A New Approach to Girls Basketball
Tucked-away in Surry B.C. in a facility nicknamed “The Warehouse,” Canada’s next generation of female basketball hopefuls are developing their skills, and spending hours in the gym under the supervision of B.C natives, Elle Kerfoot and Jess Franz.
Kerfoot has made her mark on Canadian basketball over the last twelve years, and with an impressive resume that features a three-year stint on B.C’s provincial team, a full-ride scholarship to Seattle University, a trip to the University World Games, and a professional contract in Belgium, there isn’t much she hasn’t done. When her professional playing career came to an end however, she knew she wasn’t ready to leave the sport.
Kerfoot founded EK Hoops Training in 2016, with the mandate of providing top level mental, and physical training, as well as skill development for female basketball players.
“I always knew this is wanted I wanted to do,” she says of decision to shift to coaching, “I have been lucky enough to achieve all of my basketball goals, including my last one – to coach and mentor girls.”
Her female coaches, Joan Bonviciniat Seattle University, and Lisa Thomaidis, at World University games are the ones who inspired Kerfoot’s coaching philosophy at EK Hoops.
What sets EK Hoops apart is the focus on specific skill development. Kerfoot has structured her program to grow with the athlete, and develop them to the point where they can be competitive in Canada, as well as in the U.S, giving them the best chance to chase their dreams of playing professionally.
The program focuses on small group training, and offers girls an intimate 6:1 player to coach ratio, something that is very difficult to find in clubs that are centered on team coaching, league play, and large group training.
“I think that so many times with big groups, kids just get lost. With the small groups we can really pay attention to each athlete,”...
Kerfoot explained of her choice to avoid the traditional training structure, “we really want to get to know our athletes, and so far we’ve built some really cool relationships with them.”
Kerfoot notes that one of her greatest strengths is her understanding of the game of basketball itself, and that she has “developed a training approach that is intense, fun, inspirational, and very detail-oriented.”
She demonstrates just how attentive she is, by ensuring that every part of the program contributes to the athlete’s success; including the gym itself. The poster-sized photos on the wall are designed to inspire, and feature Kerfoot, Franz, and their athletes playing the game, alongside shots of basketball’s greatest stars.
“We pride ourselves on the warehouse—we’ve tried to build a safe environment, where girls can really be themselves, achieve their goals, and just hang out,” Kerfoot said.
The hash tag “#WEWORK” is also painted on the wall, and acts as a continuous reminder for the athletes of what they’re there to do. The mantra is also featured prominently in Kerfoot’s social media posts.
Aside from building the basics, improving ball handling, shooting, and footwork, Kerfoot and Franz also focus their training program on filling the need for more female mentorship in the sport. As much as the program is based on basketball, it also seeks to teach skills that can be applied outside of the gym.
“I definitely believe in being a strong female presence and I want all my girls to learn how to stay super strong and have a voice,” said Kerfoot.
Respect for women’s basketball in Canada is on the rise following the Canadian Women’s Basketball team earning a top 10 finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and capturing gold on home soil at the 2016 Pan Am games in Toronto, however Kerfoot does not believe the sport is where it should be.
“There are more opportunities for women to play basketball now, more than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier for females to break into the sport.” EK Hoops is aiming to change that, having a female centric training facility where girls can gain confidence and achieve their goals.
Looking forward, she hopes to inspire a new generation of girls, both on and off the court, and set them up to succeed in a sport where work ethic and determination are the name of the game.