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Hoops clinic keeps game fundamental
The Yuma Parks and Recreation Department's boys basketball clinic requires a lot of work, but delivers a lot of fun, say parks and recreation officials.
The program, which began Monday and continues for two weeks, focuses on basic instruction of dribbling, passing, and shooting more than competition, said Debbie Wendt, recreation supervisor for the parks and recreation department.
"It's a great beginning program and hopefully gets them excited enough to return for our fall and winter city clinics," Wendt said.
Basketball is one of the favorite programs offered by the department and historically fills up with the maximum of 40 players every summer, Oscar Chavez, basketball coach, said. Chavez, formerly San Pasqual High School's varsity coach, said that although T-ball and other sports do well youth are especially drawn to basketball because everyone gets to handle the ball and with so many turnovers the consequences of a game can change in a blink of an eye.
"We just got done with the finals (NBA) last night and I'm sure all these kids were watching Kobe (Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers guard)," Chavez said. "One thing nice about basketball is if you work at the fundamentals you can make it pay off."
And for proof that basketball drills produce results Chavez points to Kofa High School who made in into the first round of the state finals while Yuma and Yuma Catholic High Schools advanced to the quarter finals.
And what is particularly gratifying for Chavez is that many of the high schools players came through his program. He singles out Yuma Catholic's Matt Inman known mostly for his prowess on the gridiron but also a fine basketball player as an alumnus.
Chavez's young players range from 5 to 14 years old whom he divides into similar age groups because motor skills are about equal at the same age. One of the biggest challenges for the youngest players is fear of being part of a large group but his emphasis on teamwork helps overcome obstacles.
As Chavez gave his future all-stars a pep talk, he cautioned them the clinic does not schedule breaks during the hour and a half session so they had to take their own breaks but when their bodies are "huffing and puffing it means you're doing a good job," he said. The drills they work on the first week builds up their agility and agility is important because in basketball a player needs to be strong, fast and limber, he explained.
Jessy Aguirre, 16, a senior this fall at Yuma High School is one of several volunteer assistant coaches. Aguirre said she likes training youngsters and it is one of the easiest jobs she has ever had. She hoped to see some skills improvement in her young players but they want to maximize "the fun, that's what's cool about it," she explained.
"Basketball takes a lot of running and that's not the fun part but scoring baskets makes the running all worth it."
Chavez also praised Parks and Rec Staff, Debbie Wendt, Adan Christensen, and director Becky Chavez for their emphasis on summer youth programs. Yet with the amount of players drawn to the program he said he could not possibly succeed without the help of his assistant coaches.
He pointed out Aguirre, who also plays volleyball and softball, was selected because he anticipated she would bring some freshness and excitement to the drills and from the short time he has seen her she is very adept at coaching.
"All our volunteers are good athletes in their own right," he said. "They all want to do a good job and share the love of sports they have."