Those that played high school basketball know that there are really four different basketball seasons; Tournament season (Nov-Dec), League season, post-season playoffs, and Summer. Mid-June through late-July are filled with team camps, tournaments, classes, and a myriad of hoops related events that allow those with the passion to develop individual skill while playing with potential teammates. It used to be one of my favorite seasons because you played constantly. I remember my Junior year playing at an eight hour basketball camp all week, then playing three games Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday at the Chico State gym. The gym was over a hundred degrees and it was my first real experience with Icy Hot. Soreness, sweat, and glory were the themes of those times, and now it travels on to those that I coach.
My job is a tad bit different than the typical varsity coach. I’m the JV coach, and therefore I take the young talent to Junior Varsity tournaments (which are pretty rare) or small school varsity tournaments (which are much more common). I usually take a combination of incoming freshmen and incoming sophomores to the competition; locally that means small school varsity teams that can range from pretty good to downright poor. We compete. Some years we compete enough to win. Last year we were even in the Willits Tournament and came out on the plus side in the Mendocino College Summer League. This year we are 2-1 in the summer league and went 1-3 in this weekends tourney. But it’s not like the wins really matter at all. The summer is about bringing in new blood to work with the vets and getting kids to play, play, play. Four incoming frosh and three incoming sophs spent hours in the Willits High School gym last weekend working on their craft, and the result was promising. Number one mission was accomplished; they consistently worked hard. They learned the offense and started to adjust to things on the court. I was proud of them. We are talking about over half my team playing eighth-graders from Clear Lake a couple of months ago now sparring with 17 year old young men who have three years experience under their belt. I was proud.
So let the heat of summer bother those that hide in air conditioning, while the men of hardwood seek to hone their skills in the warmth of a fine gymnasium. Or something like that.