Ryan Legge is quiet and reserved off the basketball court.
His coach, Troy Coish, says there have been times when he thought Legge was falling asleep at practice because he never heard a peep from him.
That all changes when it comes to tip-off time.
Legge is a member of the host Deer Lake Lightning male basketball squad competing at the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in Deer Lake.
Legge is a Grade 8 student at Xavier Junior High who is a starter on a talented roster that includes five pint-size Grade 7s who certainly don’t look out of place on the floor against players towering over them.
Coach Coish is familiar with Legge’s development as a player and a person having coached the forward for the past three seasons.
He said Legge is the most improved player on the team this season. He has been surprised by the growth he has shown as a young man and also praised him for being a great student of the game and making strides in all facets of his game.
“It seems like he came out of his shell this year and finally got confidence,” Coish said Wednesday after his team handily beat Mount Pearl/South by a lopsided score in the team’s opening game Wednesday afternoon.
Legge was a force on the hardwood in the opener. He made some big shots, made some neat passes to teammates who found their way to the bucket and used his size to be a demon on the rebounding side of things.
“He was just eating the glass,” Coish said.
Coish is happy to see Legge come into his own and applauded him for being willing to learn and push himself to be a better player.
“He seems to have a nose for where the ball is going and he seems to be in right position all the time,” he said. “If he gets his hand on the ball nine chances out of 10 he’s getting it.”
Legge, not surprisingly, was soft-spoken when he chatted with The Western Star about his love for the game and his feelings about playing in the Games before family and friends.
“I’m happy to be a part of the Games. I’m excited about playing,” Legge said.
Legge believes his team is in the mix for a medal because they have assembled a talented team that puts in a lot of effort, but he also thinks chemistry is a big factor in how well the team performs on the hardwood.
“We have a really good bond between the players,” he said. “We have a very good friendship and we spent a lot of time together on the floor so we know where everybody is going to be.”
He’s going to take it one game at a time and see what comes his way.
It’s a time for young athletes from nooks and crannies across the province to show everybody who they are and how far they have come in their respective sports.
That quiet and reserved fella is about to turn up the intensity because this is when his team needs him the most.
His reward for his hard work is wearing the host colours.
A medal dangling around his neck would be a bonus.