January 2007 PSS Alumnus Jesse McClean was teaching in Drumheller, Alta.
His spare time was consumed by his passion – coaching basketball and building a high school program. PSS Rebel basketball was in fledgling stage when McClean answered a phone call and came mid winter to conduct a weekend clinic with for a PSS Junior girls team that had yet to ever win a game.
From that Rebel team spawned two basketball gym rats who, along with their teammates went on to help inspire a program that remains strong to this day.
Rebel Girls teams have had a regular March zip code at Provincial Championships for the last five seasons.
Makenzie Johnston returns this weekend as a fourth year player with her Kings University squad for a series of exhibition games at the PSS gym.
Rachel Halipchuk went on to be signed by NCAA Simon Fraser University.
This past season PSS senior Angie Marshall brought home All Star honours from the High School Provincial Championships. Teammates dCierra Bamford signed a university athletic scholarship with PACWEST Capilano Blues while Julia Reichart signed with CIS UBCO Heat.
Not bad for little old Princeton.
All have roots somewhere back to McClean and his coaching staff.
Since that first trip home to work with local hoopsters, McClean’s travels eventually lead him to Edmonton where he has settled in as men’s head basketball coach at Kings University College. Along the way he formed Badlands Basketball, comprised of current Kings women’s coach Chad Podhaichuk and former players, and travelled to communities teaching basketball fundamentals. Badlands Basketball, including a few three on three basketball street events downtown Princeton, have brought their swarm style defense and read the gap style offense to Princeton no less than 11 times. Combine this with Johnston and Halipchuk returning as coaches for the VFE Spring basketball league, guest coaches for PSS rebel teams and for Badlands Summer camp and the connection just keeps growing with Princeton.
That McClean and Podhaichuk want to bring university ball to Princeton should not be surprising. It is just the next chapter. Joining the Kings University Eagles men’s coaching squad this season is fellow PSS Alimnus and Rebel teammate Jason Leslie.
This is a lesson on following a dream and feeding a passion, whether as a player from a small Single A school or as coaches pacing the sideline. As a community we are fortunate to have this opportunity. It is also just a great opportunity to see a sporting event. That it is one with so many personal connections to so many kids in the community is beyond cool.
In an effort to encourage kids to participate, the Princeton Basketball Association – Sponsors of the VFE Spring Basketball League – has contributed a donation so that all Princeton students from all schools, can attend free. Adults are $5 per day.
Pre game events include a Smokie BBQ outside courtesy of Doug’s Homestead. All proceeds from both games go to offset team travel and officiating costs.