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Shak's World provides skills training, smiles and touch of the NBA

'We try to focus on giving opportunities to young people with passion,' says founder Shanicka Edwards

Shak’s World Community Centre in downtown Barrie is living up to its mandate to create leaders through basketball and community programs. 

The gym and community hub located on Maple Avenue has been rotating steady games of basketball and other community outreach programs since COVID restrictions have loosened 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 their Jr. NBA program.

“We are the only Jr. NBA program this far north of Toronto, which is fantastic,” Edwards tells BarrieToday. “Since COVID has subsided, we have run three six-week sessions and brought in just over 100 kids into the facility to play, learn skills and be active.”

While Shak’s World opened officially in November 2021, Edwards has been a staple in the local sports community for years and has been trying to get the popular Jr. NBA program during that time.

“Over the past few years, I have reached out to Canada Basketball to build this partnership to be the fundamental stepping stone to some of these kid's basketball careers,” she said. “While this program is very popular, we also have a house league and provide private training.”

Sam Tokarz is one of the Shak’s World coaches who work with the kids.

“It's wonderful to see the smiles on their faces when they’re playing, but to watch them grow as a person and learn new things is very special,” Tokarz said. “The really cool thing, personally, is while I think I’m knowledgeable about the game of basketball, I am also learning so much as the days go on.”

Tokarz believes having the Jr. NBA program in Barrie is going to create a new crop of players and provide families with a viable learning experience.

“A lot of the time, kids have to make the trek to Toronto for this type of thing. It's a long commute, takes away from their sleep and studying and family time,” he said. “Having the program here is key to growing the game the way Shak’s World wants to  to build a community of friendships and respect while teaching the skills of the sport.”

Edwards spoke about what Shak’s World does in the city and used Tokarz as an example.

“We try to focus on giving opportunities to young people with passion. Sam started off with us by renting the gym just to practise shooting by himself and trying to get in 1,000 to 2,000 shots,” she said. “He has really developed through the Jr. NBA program and its early teachings to now be a leader for others.”

The program focuses on the fundamental movement skills of running, jumping, throwing, catching, balance, agility, and co-ordination. It also works to begin and progress on the development of some of the fundamental basketball skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, and playing defense.

There is another Jr. NBA program starting at the end of June.

For more details on how to join, click here.