John Desormeaux was not about to sit idle as Covid-19 attempted to ground local basketball to a halt.
The long-time area coach, who founded the Sudbury Jam and has worked with silkscreening businesses and such for quite some time, decided to put his current location to greater use.
Operating out of the front of the old Campbell Chevrolet & Olds building on Frood Road, Desormeaux has repurposed the one-time repair bay on the upper floor, at the back of the building, installing nine baskets in what is now a 5000 square foot basketball skill development setting.
"Once Covid hit, I looked at our community and the basketball needs," he said. "You have a lot of kids that are fit and are looking for a place to play. I was thinking about the pandemic timelines and it was looking that there might be nothing until at least January, so I put the cart ahead of the horse."
"I thought I had to build something."
That something is simply known as "The Facility", and it's the venue where Desormeaux and Sudbury Five pro basketball talent George Serresse began welcoming local youth this past week.
Thankfully, the move towards Phase 2 on a provincial level has provided groups like these with the necessary parameters for safe operation.
"We are following the guidelines put out both by Basketball Ontario and Basketball Canada," said Desormeaux, who went on to note the assessment area whereby athletes have their temperatures read and are provided a protective face shield and such.
"And the guidelines are here, posted on the wall," he added. "For parents, when they register their kids, we bring them in privately and they get to see the Covid protocols in place."
"We have enough room to allow for ball handling drills, shooting drills. We made sure it was built with proper Covid protocols in mind."
Currently, that means groups no larger than ten. Still, in the mind of Serresse, a graduate of both College Notre-Dame and the Laurentian Voyageurs programs, this is a step in the right direction.
"The reason that John and myself decided to embark on this journey with this facility is just to give the kids the tools that they need to reach their potential," said Serresse, who now has two years under his belt as a member of the Five.
"A little less time for games and more times spent in the gym, just practicing, is a good thing."
With school gymnasiums out of the question and the city proceeding cautiously in terms of re-opening their venues to the public, a private endeavour might just fill a niche in the market. "It offers the kids a place to go where they can develop their skills," said Serresse.
"It's an additional place where the kids can come and learn about basketball."
And while game play will be missed, there is simply no substitute for the benefit of practice.
"The key for these kids is working on the fundamentals, doing them properly," said Serresse. "Once you have that base, then just try and get as many reps as possible. In most cases, it's not stuff that is that complicated."
"Every day, you need to push yourself to do it properly, and then the higher you go, you add more speed, more agility."
The Facility is currently offering twice a week programming for a period of four months. For further details, kindly contact either John Desormeaux at (705) 691-3178, or George Serresse at (705) 332-0808.