Now in its sixth year under its current organizer, the Paris girls basketball shootout may have been started by Paris Principal Chris Willingham, but current Lady Coyotes varsity girls hoops coach Garrett Thomas has done everything possible to make it all his own.
One thing Thomas has never done at this event is try and put helpful and well-meaning teenage volunteers into adult roles. When it comes to officiating games, those who aren't up to that task aren't asked to do so at this event.
Instead, what you get are people like Mike Fible, who recently resigned from several positions with Paris Community Schools including Varsity Baseball and Softball coach to become the Athletic Director/VarsityBaseball Coach at Linn High School, yet he still came back to work this event.
"We get about 20 schools to come to our shootout every year. Some bring their JV. It's a good experience for all the girls involved," said Thomas. " Everyone who comes here gets good game experience. I like using this for my JV kids that are going to be moving up to varsity to give them a good look before they get into a competitive basketball season."
Coming up for Paris are shootouts in Caro, Rolla and Quinton. The Lady Coyotes have a shootout later this summer in Quinton, as well.
"Shootouts are a good barometer as to what we can expect from these players in the future, but, for us, things have been going really well, so far," Thomas said. "We're pretty soldi. I tell the girls we want to bring out all the mistakes we possible can during the summer. That way we can get rid of those things before the season starts. We want to see where we are deficient. So far, we've really seen some weaknesses, but we've also seen some seen a lot of strengths."
For Thomas, his greatest takeaway so far has been seeing what his team needs to improve on. Getting better at what they don't do well is what he feels is going to truly get the Lady Coyotes from where they're at to where they want to be.
"Besides shootouts, we have some open gyms and we lift weights pretty consistently throught the summer. There's also a practice scattered randomly throughout the summer," said Thomas. "Really, the main thing is that the girls improve their basketball skills. It's not so much about working on team components like offense or defense. It's more about trying to fine tune their individual skills like ball handling, passing and shooting."
One recent occurence the entire Paris Athletic Department has been celebrating is the fact that Hannah Mitchell was named the school's Female Athlete of the Year. In 2017-18 Mitchell competed in basketball, softball and track and field.
"There couldn't be a better recipient of that Award. Hannah is a great girl who, obviously, involved in lots of different things, academically and athletically," Thomas said. "Not only is she involved, she's super-competitive kid that earnes everything she receives both in the classroom and in athletics. I was really proud of Hannah for receiving that and their couldn't be a better girls to get it."