When you truly break down all the various ins and outs that come with building the various levels of an athletic program and all the development each and every individual involved has to to endure in order to truly benefit from what the process has to offer, sports and education are truly one in the same.
Thanks to the help of a wealth of individuals Mexico varsity girls basketball coach Ed Costley was able to share his knowledge last week with a four day girls youth hoops skills clinic at Mexico Middle School that ran from Mon.-Thur. from 3:30-5 p.m. for kids in third through fifth grade and from 5-6:30 p.m. for athletes entering grades six through eight.
"We've had really good numbers. We're really excited about the number of sixth, seventh and eighth graders we've had," said Costley. "Those kids are right there at that next step before they come into the high school and last year it felt like we had a lot of seventh graders playing basketball. With the eighth graders we're looking to continue with those numbers. Anything we can do at the middle school level to get kids to play because, going back to Dec. was the last time some of them played with structure."
Among the individuals on hand on the final day of this clinic helping Costley run the various stations and help the youth athletes included Juniors Reagen Smith, Katie Jones and Taylor Sherrow and Senior Reagan Playter. Middle school basketball coach Mackenzie Mudd, Danielle Louder, Katie Scherder and Abbie Eddy were on hand, as well.
"You hope there are some kids getting some individual things done or playing travel ball. For other kids this is their opportunity and we're going to give them what we can," Costley said. "We've got a lot of little kids, so we'll finish up the week with some games. Hopefully we'll send them out of here with some excitement and wanting to play some more basketball. It's a lot of fun as they go through it and that's what we hope to get out of it."
One obvious difference when dealing with two different age groups is the specifics of what they're being taught. Costley's approach for this event regarding the younger group was to focus on ball handling and driving to the basket and finishing.
"If we can get them facing the basket and never turning their back. Sometimes you can learn a lot in the driveway that's not good, like backing a player down," said Costley. "We're not the NBA, where you can back down the defender from the top of the key. Sometimes kids pick up bad habits of dribbling backwards towards the rim. What we try and do is just them comfortable going towards the basket. We put high school players or noodles or other obstructions in their way and tell them to just keep going."
Beyond that, Costley also employs, footwork, fundamentals, 1-on-1's and 2-on-2's while keeping things as simple as possible with the younger group. But, what the older group got was nothing like that.
"We gave them some things that really they're not ready for, like advanced ball handling. But it gives them something to think about. It lets them know there's something they can work on," Costley said. "It's a little more advanced than they'd normally see, but if they can pull one thing out and get better, we'll take it. For us, it's a lot of read, react. Read, react. We did a 2-on-2 drill the other day that we are going to do again today and in that drill we want them to read and react without thinking about it. "
The end result is the player either scores or passes without overthinking the play in order to avoid missing a scoring opportunity. Costley beleives that missed scoring opportunities can also be attributed to a lack of aggression.
"We love this gym. We really kind of fell in to it. It's really been different for us and really helpful for our third graders. At such a young age you don't want them jsut pushing or throwing the ball up there. You want tehm to use a little form and technique," said Costley. "It's really been great for us and lucky for our third graders that we even have these goals. Some of these kids are also taking middle school summer school, so it works out for us. "
The middle school gym has six baskets that can go as low as seven feet