“We try to focus on providing opportunities for young people with passion,” says Founder Shanicka Edwards
Shak’s World Community Center in downtown Barrie fulfills its mandate to create leaders through basketball and community programs.
The gymnasium and community center located on Maple Avenue has been hosting regular basketball games and other community outreach programs since COVID restrictions eased and even recently added a popular national program to the schedule.
Shak’s World founder Shanicka (Shak) Edwards says she’s very proud of her relationship with Canada Basketball and its Jr. NBA program.
“We’re the only Jr. NBA program this far north of Toronto, which is fantastic,” Edwards said. BarrieToday. “Since COVID subsided, we have held three six-week sessions and brought just over 100 children to the facility to play, learn skills and be active.”
While Shak’s World officially opened in November 2021, Edwards has been a fixture in the local sports community for years and has been trying to secure the popular Jr. NBA program during that time.
“Over the past few years, I’ve reached out to Canada Basketball to establish this partnership that will be the foundational stepping stone to some of these kids’ basketball careers,” she said. “Although this program is very popular, we also have a house league and offer private training.”
Sam Tokarz is one of Shak’s World coaches who works with children.
“It’s wonderful to see the smiles on their faces when they play, but watching them grow as people and learn new things is very special,” Tokarz said. “The really cool thing, personally, is that while I think I know basketball well, I’m also learning a lot as the days go by.”
Tokarz believes having the Jr. NBA program in Barrie will create a new generation of players and provide families with a viable learning experience.
“Most of the time kids have to go to Toronto for this stuff. It’s a long journey that robs them of sleep, study and family time,” he said. “Having the program here is essential to developing the game the way Shak’s World wants it to be. — to build a community of friendships and respect while teaching the skills of sport.
Edwards talked about what Shak’s World is doing in the city and used Tokarz as an example.
“We try to focus on providing opportunities for young enthusiasts. Sam started with us renting the gym just to practice shooting on his own and trying to get 1,000 to 2,000 shots,” she said. “He really grew through the Jr. NBA program and his early teachings to now be a leader for others.”
The program focuses on the fundamental motor skills of running, jumping, throwing, catching, balance, agility and coordination. It also works to start and progress in developing some of the fundamental basketball skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding and defending.
There is another Jr. NBA program starting in late June.
For more details on how to join, Click here.