Mike Peters helps Niles’ basketball team with off-season program

Published 8:35 am Monday, November 22, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Niles girls' basketball coach Jim Arnold has 312 lifetime victories, placing him 38th on Michigan's all-time list. But only recently have his teams started to blossom.
In his 19 years coaching, more than half of his wins (55 percent) have come since 1997. Arnold is quick to point out the reason behind his recent success, and it has nothing to do with him - it's Niles' off-season basketball program.
Because of the leagues and tournaments the Vikings participate in during the off-season, the girls play basketball nearly year-round. But once the season ends, Arnold is limited by Michigan High School Athletic Association rules dictating how often he can have contact with his players.
So the coach relies on parents and volunteers to take the reigns of the team in the off-season when he can't. For the past four years, Mike Peters has been the man Arnold has counted on.
Peters volunteers his time in the off-season, especially in the summers, to take the Vikings all around the state to play in various leagues and tournaments. Arnold said Peters' service is valuable because it keeps his players in shape and helps them improve.
The supplemental leagues the Vikings play in are beneficial because they allow them to continue to play against top competition, even though the season is over.
Peters takes Niles' players as far away as Kalamazoo, Lansing and Grand Rapids to compete. He has a 15-passenger van for his company, East Main Gardens, that the team travels in.
While the summer leagues are quite a commitment with games every weekend and a few during the week, Peters enjoys working with the team. The part he likes most is getting to spend time with his daughter Amber.
Amber is a senior point guard for the Vikings. Peters said the summer program offers him a chance to help the team, as well as spend time with his youngest daughter.
Arnold said, beside the playing experience, spending most weekends together gives his players an opportunity to gel as a team. Amber said she gets to gel with her dad, as well as her teammates.
Peters actually started working with Niles' girls basketball program in 1992 when his oldest daughter Tarah, now 22, was playing at the YMCA. He and a few other parents wanted more games for their daughters to improve than the league offered.
Since then, Peters said there have been more and more opportunities for girls to play in the off-season, and that has helped Niles' teams get progressively better.
The Vikings actually start playing again about a month after the season ends. They play in a few leagues and tournaments starting in January. However, the players aren't required to do so, Arnold said. They choose to play.
Amber agreed, saying one of the reasons the girls love playing so much is the level of competition they go up against.
Arnold is glad the girls enjoy it so much, because the off-season program has paid off greatly for Niles.
The Vikings are thankful for the time and effort Peters puts into the program, he added, because it's one of the keys the team has enjoyed so much success recently.