Teamwork for the Chemainus Secondary School basketball program starts at the bench.
Athletic director Kyle Peruniak and Graeme Arkell are taking aim at new heights for the program after a long absence from prominence in the sport, particularly among the boys. Both are new to the school in 2017-18.
Peruniak is coaching the senior boys while Arkell takes over the junior boys. They’re working together to develop talent and bring some longer-term stability and experience for those coming up through the ranks to follow.
Arkell, 29, is enjoying the opportunity to work alongside Peruniak.
“Kyle is a bright and cheerful man who is well liked by all the players,” Arkell indicated. “I consider him a great mentor and friend. I appreciate the kindness he has shown me by inviting me to watch his practice sessions and giving me instruction about valuable basketball skills and drills that I am in turn teaching my players.”
Arkell is eager to create an environment among the junior boys where they want to learn and eventually succeed when moving up to the senior level.
“My junior boys basketball players embrace the following three keys to success on the court: play our game, turn on the jets (high speed, high intensity) and fake a pass to make a pass,” he indicated. “The sweaty, red faces of my players are always a testament to our up-tempo, exciting style of basketball.”
Arkell was born in Nanaimo and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vancouver Island University, with minors in English and history. He also has a Bachelor of Education degree from VIU and is currently completing his Master of Education degree at VIU, graduating in June 2018.
Arkell is six-foot-four and his height was always an asset during his tenure as a basketball player.
“When I was in Grade 8, I joined the basketball team at Dover Bay Secondary in Nanaimo and continued playing till Grade 10,” he explained. “Basketball quickly became my favourite sport. I loved the speed of the game and the thrill of dribbling past the defenders as I drove hard to the hoop. Another aspect of my game that I took a lot of pride in was my ability to fake passes to open up time and space for my teammates.”
Arkell was never employed by the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District, but completed his teaching practicum at Woodlands Secondary School in Nanaimo in 2015. He coached junior boys basketball there and, with the support and encouragement of athletic director Zed Malenica and fellow coach Davis Stupich, the team wrapped up its season with a winning record of 5-3.
Now that Arkell’s at Chemainus Secondary, where he teaches English, he’s noticed there’s a very positive school culture.
“This culture is largely influenced by the school’s sports teams,” he observed. “In the school newsletters, students and staff regularly read about the latest sports victories, team meetings and upcoming tournaments. Students, parents and teachers frequently attend the games and cheer on our teams.”
Arkell started out the current school year coaching the junior girls volleyball team. When its season ended, he made the switch to the junior boys basketball team in early December and is looking forward to seeing some significant progress and a strong work ethic when game action resumes again next week.
“With our commitment to inclusiveness and sportsmanship, we also create a caring environment in which all players know they belong,” Arkell noted. “The players’ basketball skills continue to improve and they are making a few lasting friends along the way.”