Former minor basketball players now coaches
As the Airdrie Minor Basketball Association (AMBA) gears up for another season, two former players from the organization’s past are set to take over behind the bench.
Airdrie residents Jamie Newman and Farran Harkonen will both be volunteer coaches in the AMBA this year. Newman will be coaching a U-13 or U-15 team during the season and Harkonen will be taking charge of one of the AMBA’s Tyke squad.
“I have my own family and as they are getting older, I decided I wanted to get back involved in coaching after a few years away,” the 34 year-old Newman said.
“I wanted to get more involved in the community here, and I love the game as well, so it was a perfect fit,” Harkonen, 25, added.
In addition to playing in the AMBA, Newman and Harkonen both played in high school here, as Newman suited up for the Bert Church Chargers during the mid ‘90s, while Harkonen competed for the George McDougall Mustangs in the mid 2000s.
Newman’s father, Bob, was one of the pioneers that formed the AMBA shortly after he moved to Airdrie from Calgary in 1993, which makes Newman’s return to the organization a bit of a homecoming.
“To coach the kids just before they move into high school is a really great role to be in,” Newman said. “Having played in high school here and also playing in college in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat will allow me to show these guys the skills and attributes that they will need to be successful at the next level.”
“At this point, I’m not sure if I will be coaching a U-13 or U-15 team, but I am looking forward to coaching either age group,” he added.
Harkonen will be coaching a team for the first time when she takes control of one of the AMBA’s Tyke squad for players ages six and seven this fall, which is a challenge that she is looking forward to.
“I just want to make sure that everyone is contributing and having fun out there,” she said. “The biggest thing at that age is to just teach the kids about the game and to make sure that they get that love of the sport.”
The AMBA will officially begin its evaluation process on Sept. 5 when U-18 players will take to the court at Muriel Clayton Middle School.
Newman will get his first look at the U-13 and U-15 players on Sept. 9 at Muriel Clayton Middle School, while Harkonen will begin her work with the Tyke players on Sept. 30 at Herons Crossing School.