Nothing but net for WBDA as quality program is constructed


What started as a small group of parents, an athletic director and coaches roughly 10 years ago, has grown into a non-profit association with a board and over 100 student athletes and their parents involved.

The Wayne Basketball Development Association has assisted hundreds of kids as they hone their skills on the court with a focus on fundamentals.

"We're working on fundamentals," said association vice president Craig Sharpe. "That's our primary goal - to get them fundamentally read from 4-8th to make them ready."

The student athletes the WBDA works with are late elementary through late junior high, enabling them to start early and work consistently throughout their time before playing high school ball.

"We shoot for fourth grade to eighth grade boys and girls," said association president Kyle Nelsen. "A lot of parents of players coach most teams, which have 8-13 players on each."

Essentially, WBDA is an extension of the high school's basketball program. The high school coaches have been supportive of the program WBDA is building, readying younger student athletes for the rigors of high school ball.

"Ideally, what we're trying to do is really develop two to three kids in every class that can really play so that there is a pool of talent in high school," Sharpe said.

Having key players in each grade ensures that there is no gap, no drop off when a talented group of seniors graduates. If there are players who know the fundamentals and are solid players and a few stand-outs, the likelihood of things falling apart after graduating seniors are gone drops dramatically.

Both Nelsen and Sharpe explained that some classes are more naturally athletic than others, and there isn't a science to that, but that if things were more even across the board in what each player knows, there will be consistency throughout the team, regardless of stand-out players.

"We're trying not to put kids in a box," Sharpe said. "We want to make sure they are well-rounded, that's the ultimate goal."

And that goal is something everyone believes in and is supportive of, from the high school coaches to the City of Wayne.

"The City has been great working with us as far as the Community Activity Center and the Auditorium. The school lets us practice at the elementary," Sharpe said. "People have been really cooperative and there is no way we could do what we do without that."

And what they do is pretty impressive, considering the large tournament the WBDA hosts in February brought in 70 teams last year.

A tournament has been occurring in Wayne for several years, but each year it gets bigger and each year the WBDA get comments back from visiting teams saying they loved the tournament and can't wait for the next one.

WBDA athletes participate in numerous tournaments each year rather than single games. The younger grades attend 3-4 of them while the older grades visit up to 8 of them. The tournaments generally start in January, though there have been some prior to Christmas and New Year's break, and they all have a two game minimum.

"We do one in Wayne in February every year," Nelsen said. "The furthest away is Lincoln or Sioux Falls, but we try to keep the younger kids closer to home."

This year the tournament held during February here in Wayne is being split into two days, Feb. 18-19, and it will be held in the usual spots - the CAC, elementary and high school gyms and auditorium.

Nelsen and Sharpe said that the entire event is run by volunteers, and most of them are player parents. The only people at the tournament who are paid are the referees.

That tournament is the biggest revenue stream for the WBDA, allowing for purchasing equipment such as basketballs and uniforms.

The funds raised during the tournament have also been donated to the high school programs to pay for summer camps for the players.

Last summer, the WBDA split $3,000 between the boys and girls high school basketball teams. The donation was used to bring in someone to do summer camps.

This year Breakthrough Basketball is set to do camps in Wayne with one set for May and the other in July to help push fundamentals. It's expected that over 100 students from in and around the area will attend each camp. Each is a three day camp being held at the CAC.

Another thing the tournament monies will be used for in the near future is scholarships.

The intent is to set up two scholarships, one for a boy and one for a girl, for high school seniors who were once a part of the WBDA and continued playing ball in high school.

"It's a way to give back to the parents who've helped and to the kids who have continued to be role models," Sharpe said.

The WBDA is also donating toward the proposed outdoor basketball court at the elementary school and hope to help St. Mary's with their court eventually as well.

Those decisions are all made by the WBDA board, which includes two others besides Nelsen and Sharpe. Molly Redden serves as Secretary and Matt Ley acts as treasurer for the board.

But the WBDA doesn't stop there when it comes to helping others.

Nelsen and Sharpe said when they first began coaching it was frustrating because there's a real lack of resources for parent-coaches, nor was there a central hub for information on tournaments.

So Nelsen set up a website for the WBDA,, for parents and coaches to utilize.

"We're encouraging [other coaches] to let us know about their tourneys and we will post them on our site," Nelsen said. "We also include plays and drill - resource materials for coaches. We want people to go to Wayne's website to find all these things."

And more recently, the WBDA has joined the social media movement by starting a Facebook page where they post regularly and encourage parents to tag the page in their own photos from the tournaments.

Nelsen and Sharpe were quick to thank those in the community who sponsor the WBDA outright and those individuals and businesses in town who help throughout the season.

"We have some really great sponsors this year. Without them, we wouldn't be able to do what we do," Nelsen said. "We're always willing to add more sponsors and they don't have to be a business or corporation."

And because of the generosity of the community, Sharpe and Nelsen said they try to purchase what they can from local businesses, which they say is about 99 percent of their supplies.

Both men were impressed by the way things have been coming together and what's on the horizon for the WBDA.

"A lot of good, positive things have happened the last year. I think we've advanced a lot," Nelsen said. " I think we'll see the fruits of our labor in the future with every team."

"It's been a fun process and it's taken a lot of work, but I'm excited to see where it goes," said Sharpe.