The Active Champions Series is a monthly showcase of inspiring stories from influential people living in Canada who make physical activity and sport a key part of their everyday lives
In September 2021, the Ontario Basketball Association (OBA) presented the OBA Nav Bhatia Community Athlete Award to four incredible student athletes — Kaillie Hall, Johnathan Avgousti, Marin Scotten and Joshua Loblaw — who have taken part in OBA programs and belong to a post-secondary basketball program in Ontario. They were chosen based on their commitment on the court, in the classroom and in their communities. We chatted with them to find out what the award means to them, how basketball has benefited their mental health, social well-being, and communities, and what they think about the future of basketball in Canada.
The award recipients were honoured to be considered and grateful for the role basketball plays in their lives. Being engaged in sport can be a great opportunity to ‘Community Better,’ as Joshua expresses: “Nav Bhatia has used his platform to make a positive impact on the community, and one day I aspire to do the same.”
Johnathan builds on the positive impact and “hopes to inspire other young ballers to embark on a journey of building a foundation of hard work, perseverance, commitment and resilience to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.” Sport is always so much more than sport.
Each recipient emphasized how life skill and character development outweighs the technical benefits of the game.
“Basketball has taught me the importance of hard work, dedication, leadership, persistence and collaboration. It has also introduced me to some of my best friends – this is the biggest gift the game has given me,” said Kaillie.
“Basketball taught me how to be confident in myself — something that is difficult in all aspects of life but especially while growing up as a female,” said Marin.
Physical activity has been proven to benefit mental health and help you think and focus better. According to Joshua, it can be:
“An outlet where I can clear my mind and just focus on playing the game I love.”
Johnathan takes it one step further, saying that it “reduces my stress, boosts my mood and helps me sleep better. But the most important mental health benefit is the development of my resilience, which has given me the coping skills to prepare me for life’s challenges.”
As for the future of basketball, like a Steph Curry three, it looks like we keep progressing further beyond the arc, bringing more energy and people into the game. As Kaillie notes, this is especially true for women and girls, “It’s inspiring to see more female coaches and players continuing to push the envelope in the sport by defying traditional gender norms and making basketball a game for everyone to chase their dreams.”
ParticipACTION would like to thank Nav Bhatia, the OBA and these four tremendous leaders for bringing community spirit to the game.