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AWC hoopsters trade uniforms for whistles as camp coaches
Dudley Ewell's perception of playing basketball at The House mostly invokes memories of intense workouts, competitive practices and hard-fought battles against Arizona Western's toughest conference opponents.
But the mood in the gym the last two days has tilted over to the lighter side of basketball.
"When you're working with 8-year-olds and 9-year-olds, they're of the mindset that it's just a game they're playing just to play," he said. "It's fun to just be out there and run with 'em."
The students have become the teachers this week at the 11th Annual Matador Basketball Camp as six of Kelly Green's players are assisting him and the AWC coaching staff as camp coaches.
"I enjoy being around the guys this time of year," Green said. "We all get to cut up a little bit and things don't have to be quite so serious."
"Fun" still translates into hustle and competition for some of the 85-100 boys and girls at the camp, as kids were seen diving and toppling over one another to chase down a loose ball. Player/coaches like Yuma High grad Harvey Callaway are right on the scene to offer a hand up and a high-five for their efforts.
"It feels good because it lets us know that coach trusts us, and we've learned how to do his demonstrations and apply them to the kids," Callaway said.
Callaway added that the process of teaching basketball to others has made him a better player.
"There's so many kids, and every one has different skills and different needs, so you have to learn to adapt to each of them," he said. "If you can do that, you can apply those things to your own game."
Alonzo Brandon has been traveling back and forth between Yuma and Las Vegas to see his girlfriend and his family. His girlfriend wasn't only person who was glad he choose to be back in town this week to do a second year of camp.
"I saw a lot of them at games last year, and during school when they'd come to register they'd see me and say "Coach Zo! Coach Zo!" Brandon said.
Ironically, neither Ewell, Callaway or Brandon began attending basketball camps in their youths until middle school. But they still see a part of their former selves in their students.
"There's a couple out there that remind me of myself, kids that just want to get better and are willing to listen to get better," Ewell said.
Green said he thinks his players gain a better understanding for coaching, as well as their roles as members of the community.
"Somebody, somewhere along the way gave of their time for them and was someone they looked up to, and this is a great chance for them to give back," he said. "I hope they're learning that coaching can be a little trying at times, but I really hope that they learn the importance of being a solid person and how these kids look up to them."
Matador Basketball Camp runs through Thursday. A second session runs next week and is still accepting registrations.