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Southwest hoops camp providing cool summer fun for local youths

June 27, 2001|By TIM YANNI, Sports Writer

With summer temperatures soaring in the Imperial Valley and an abundance of time on the hands of local students, it always helps to have indoor activities that keep kids cool and active.

Southwest High School's girls basketball program is sponsoring an event that brings young basketball players out of the scorching sun and keeps their minds and bodies busy.

The Southwest High youth basketball camp in El Centro, in its fourth year, is the perfect place to be.

Southwest coach Ruben Valenzuela said he is always enthusiastic when it comes to basketball camps.

"They're learning the basic skills of basketball," Valenzuela said of the youths in attendance.

He said some of those basic skills are dribbling, shooting and passing.

The participants are drilled on a daily basis and the camp runs from 1-4 p.m. all this week, Valenzuela said. He said drills are emphasized throughout the camp and in the end teams are formed and games and even tournaments are played so students can showcase their sharpened abilities.

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"I enjoy watching the kids learn," Valenzuela said. "It's nice to be in a cool gym when it's 107 outside."

He said the camp has 53 youths involved this year. Some are attending for the first time while others have returned year after year.

Valenzuela said seeing the players return shows him the time spent is both helpful and fun.

"They come in with a lot of enthusiasm," Valenzuela said. "It's great to see."

He said the camp is open to all Valley children but he strongly encourages girls who will be attending Southwest to attend because of the opportunities of both coaches and the future players to work together.

"It's nice when you have girls who have attended camps come out," Valenzuela said of girls joining the Eagles basketball program.

He added girls are better off when they learn basketball fundamentals when they are young as opposed to waiting for high school.

"We love to have the elementary school kids," Valenzuela said. "It helps prepare them for high school ball.

"I'm excited about the turnout," he said. "We're giving a lot of kids the opportunity to keep cool and have a lot of fun."

Nicholas Perkins, a 10-year-old El Centro resident, said he enjoys basketball because it is fun.

He said he came to the camp "for the fun of it." He added skills he has picked up include crossover dribbling and shooting baskets.

Whitney McShan, 11, of El Centro said she likes the techniques learned at the camp.

"I just want to play and to see how to do everything the right way," Whitney said.

Whitney, a Desert Gardens Elementary School student, said she likes basketball because much of her family plays. She added it's a fun way to stay out of the heat and to keep from getting bored.

She said she wants to come back to the camp the next time it is staged.

Valenzuela is keeping busy both with the camp and the girls summer league in which Southwest competes against other Valley high schools.

He said Southwest will conduct a second camp July 23-27.

The second camp is open to all young basketball players. The cost will be $40 for new campers and $35 for those who attended the first camp.

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