Two weeks of instruction have been completed, getting youngsters used to the skill set needed for basketball. After a break this Saturday, the participants in Escalon’s Cub Basketball program will come back to start a five-week league season on Saturday, Jan. 27.
“We have around 170 kids,” said Cub Basketball program coordinator Martin Louro, who also serves as head coach for the varsity boys basketball program at EHS. “We go from seven years old to 14 years old and the first two weeks, we do clinics.”
Broken up by age divisions, the young players get instruction on dribbling, passing, jump and pivot moves, and more. The program had its first Saturday of clinic instruction on Jan. 6, followed by a second clinic on Jan. 13.
“We want to spur a little interest and we hope to see a benefit to our high school programs later on,” Louro said.
By getting kids interested early, he added, they can improve on those skills and fine tune their game through the Cub program, then move on to the structured competition at the middle and high school levels.
“Last year out of the Cub basketball program we got five AAU teams,” Louro said of players wanting to continue with the sport after the short winter program. “We had all different age groups, boys and girls teams. As long as we have kids that want to play, we will do those AAU teams.”
High school coaches, from both the boys and girls programs, oversee the Cub program and also serve as instructors. Coming in to help are players from the high school teams as well.
“It’s a way for the high school kids to give a little back to this community, which has given so much to them,” Louro explained.
JV girls basketball head coach Robbie Leal runs the clinic drills and Louro handles the bulk of the administrative duties, with other coaches also helping to run the clinics and then work with the teams during the league games. Five weeks of competition will be featured, with games every Saturday, Jan. 27 through Feb. 24.
There’s also time for instruction during the competitive games, as organizers want to make sure the young players are getting as much information as possible about how the sport is played.
Leal said they also work with a variety of skill levels and work to place players on teams so that all teams are competitive.
“We want them to stick with it,” Leal said of making the Cub Basketball program a fun way to spend a Saturday. “We want them to keep playing.”