To the casual observer on the sidelines, the sight of Jenna Ralston and Jennafer Palma directing, encouraging, and motivating a gym full of eager U15 athletes isn’t anything special. But to the Triple Threat staff, having these two young women continuing the legacy that they helped start is monumental. Like a proud parent, Triple Threat co-founder Winston Brown watches on as the two young coaches take over practice and put the team through the paces. “It’s an awesome moment for me personally,” says Brown who started Triple Threat as a way to give talented athletes, who were not able to make the provincial team, an opportunity to gain all of the same elite experiences during their summers. “When we started this program, we had players like JR (Ralston) and Palma in mind: Players who, although they weren’t prototypical basketball bodies, were talented and driven.”
“Triple Threat came along at the perfect time for me,” claimed Ralston, as she folded up her practice plan and began to clean up the gym,”at that time there were only camps for girls who didn’t make the provincial teams. Triple Threat gave me a chance to play, and that’s all a young woman really wants.” Ralston was the captain on one of Triple Threat’s most successful teams. Of the 12 team members, all but one went on to play competitive post secondary basketball. “Our team was called ‘The Remix’ because on our road trips we would always listen to this one song where a rapper yelled that…and we’d all join in.”
It’s those off the court memories that really contributed to the overall experience. “Certainly the summer is about improvement, but it is also their summer. They’re 15 and 16 year-old women who should have some fun and play some ball!” points out Jen Farano, a board member and coach at Triple Threat for the past 5 years. “They work hard in the gym and then play hard when they leave it.” Jennafer, who played for Coach Brown’s gold medal winning U14 Summer games team before joining many of her teammates at Triple Threat, recalls how each of their trips seemed scheduled around the off court activities: “If it wasn’t go karting or sand dunning, we were at water slides or shopping. We were always cramming ourselves in those 15 passenger vans and going somewhere!” And every fall, when they would return to school, their teammates and coaches would remark on how good they had gotten. “Even though we knew we were working hard, it didn’t seem like work,” adds Palma, who took that work ethic on to Capilano College. There she teamed up with Jenna to lead the Blues to their first Provincial championship in over a decade.
Both credit much of their basketball success to their summer spent with Triple Threat and cherish the opportunity to help other athletes achieve some of the same success each of them has. Each of them also insists that their Triple Threat experience inspired each of them to continue coaching and mentoring young athletes in their respective ways. Jenna, as an assistant coach in the Basketball BC Provincial program at the U16 and U17 levels; and Jennafer, as a coach and coordinator of her own basketball/volleyball camps Jalma Ball. Even while going their separate ways, they both stayed in touch with the Triple Threat staff and repeatedly hinted at an eventual return.
“It’s hard for me to say this but, men seem to dominate the sidelines in women’s basketball,” says coach Brown when asked about the importance of these two coming back, “so when I saw an opportunity to bring two talented, experienced, former Triple Threat players back to our girl’s program as coaches…I had to try and make it happen.” For Brown, the two women represent more than just token female coaches: They are knowledgeable and experienced athletes who represent the next step in Triple Threats transformation from a couple of teams wearing similar uniforms to an established and flourishing girl’s basketball club program. While all of that sounds really great, for right now these two coaches just want to make it through their first tournament! STAY TUNED!