Anne and Scott de Ridder were looking for new ways to get more involved in the community. So they decided to buy season tickets to Portland Trail Blazer games to attend as a family. With their son Willam, the de Ridders started attending games and following basketball more closely. As Willam started to get older, Anne and Scott started looking for teams their son could play and develop on. When the two learned about the recreational basketball league at Westside YMCA, they knew it would be the right fit for Willam. But the league lacked coaches for Willam’s age group. Seeing another opportunity to get more involved in the community and to continue the family’s shared love for the game, Anne and Scott decided to start their careers as Y volunteer coaches and took to the court with Willam by their side.
Though Anne and Scott knew little about the Y prior to becoming coaches, they quickly felt welcomed and at home with the organization. They were especially thankful for the efforts of Westside’s Sr. Director David Parker, who provided Westside's volunteers with support and resources—even bringing in a sports physiologist to talk to coaches.
“The Y is very well organized and incredibly supportive for the kids,” the de Ridders said. “The coaches, referees and Y staff work with the kids on sportsmanship and respect and it translates well to the classroom, other sports and life in general.”
Having now coached for more than six years with the Y, Anne and Scott have helped develop the basketball skills of over 200 youth, ranging in age from kindergarten to grade 5. And have even taken steps to become fully licensed coaches through USA Basketball and the Oregon Coaches Association—to provide their teams with even more resources for future seasons.
Unlike the more competitive basketball leagues, whose main focus is to win—Westside YMCA works with youth to learn the values of sportsmanship and importance of teamwork in a safe and encouraging environment.
“It’s not about whether you win or not, it’s if you improve,” the de Ridders said. “If we can accomplish goals as a team, then we know we are successful.”
For the de Ridders, basketball is more than just a game, it is a space where youth can learn to work together as a team, overcome challenges and obstacles and handle the stress and pressure of competition.
“We give children a safe space to make mistakes, build confidence and succeed.” The de Ridder’s have given countless hours of their time in support of the Y’s mission and have helped in fostering a fun and welcoming community for youth. They are encouraged by the growth of the players they coach and are excited to watch them advance in their basketball careers. “We find it personally fulfilling and rewarding, knowing that the volunteer work we do helps the community.”