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A strong work ethic keeps a South Brook teen’s basketball dream alive

Northcotte
Northcotte - Contributed

Andrew Bursey can pinpoint the time when basketball clicked with Joshua Northcotte. 
It was during regional play in Northcotte’s Grade 10 year at Indian River High in Springdale, where Bursey is the basketball coach. 
Northcotte was bringing the ball up the floor during a critical point in the fourth quarter and his team was down by a slim margin.
As Bursey remembers, his player had just gotten over half court before he travelled and turned the ball over. 
It was a teaching moment for Northcotte, and Bursey saw a player who vowed not to make the mistake again. 
“He’s probably put in more work than most,” said the coach. 
Bursey coached Northcotte from his start in Grade 9 until he graduated. He remembers the teen being a work in progress the moment he walked in the gym. 
Bursey could map a remarkable progression in Northcotte's play from his first year until he left school. 
His dribbling got better as Northcotte developed the ability to use both his left and right hands. His shooting improved and his basketball knowledge skyrocketed. 
“He was a sponge on the basketball court,” said Bursey. “He was a pretty coachable kid.” 
Being coachable is one aspect of becoming a successful athlete. Having the drive to improve is another. 
Kobe Bryant is known for his work ethic on his game. His drive is called the "mamba mentality" — after a nickname Bryant acquired in the latter stages of his career — and it has integrated itself into popular culture. 
Bryant happens to be Northcotte’s favourite player and someone he modeled his drive after. 
He immersed himself in the game of basketball. He watched YouTube videos on shooting form and started watching as many basketball games as he could. 
Northcotte bought a set of pylons and set them up in his driveway for dribbling drills and shooting drills. 
He’d sit on a chair and take hundreds of shots in an attempt to perfect his form. 
“I had to buy a new mesh for my basketball net because I was shooting so much,” said the 18-year-old from South Brook. 
He got a key to his high school gymnasium and would spend hours there putting shots up away from his regular practice. 
At 6'2", he turned himself into a player through sheer force of will.
That tireless work ethic has led to some big achievements for Northcotte this year. 
He is the latest product from Indian River High to play a sport at the collegiate level, joining Abby Clarke of Springdale who completed a five-year tenure on the St. Thomas University female hockey team last year. 
Admittedly, it wasn’t something he dreamed of doing as a child.  
It wasn’t until the summer before his Grade 12 year when Northcotte decided he wanted to play the sport he loved and was going to do everything he could to make that a reality. 
That's how he ended up at an open tryout at Crandall University in Moncton, N.B. The school plays in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association. 
“It was a great experience,” Northcottes said of the process. “Leading up to it, I was nervous but I had fun with it.” 
Self-described as a spot-up shooter, Northcotte spent the open run showing coaches he could play in a system and contribute in whatever way he could to help the team. 
It was enough to convince the staff to give him a spot on the roster. 
Not bad for a kid who didn’t play organized basketball until Grade 9. 
“As the years progressed and he put in more work, it was clear that he could go (to the next level),” said Bursey. “He’s come a long way.” 

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