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Southwest High basketball players get a taste of what it's like to be a coach

June 19, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

There are a lot of reasons for the Southwest High basketball camp conducted by the Southwest boys basketball team.

The camp, geared toward youngsters ages 7-15, allowed local youths to develop fundamental basketball skills, develop team concepts and improve their overall games.

But behind all that there's another method to Eagle head coach Marty Zwart's madness.

By having his varsity players help run the camp, Zwart is giving his own guys a chance to wear his shoes.

"Oh, I think it's great. With our guys helping run the camp they get to see the reverse roles," said Zwart. "They learn patience and they go through what we go through as coaches."

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Said Southwest point guard Nate Smith: "It really is like flipping it around. It makes us understand how the coaches feel. I guess it's just a good learning experience for us as players."

The camp, which began Monday and will run through Thursday, is the start of a two-week stretch of hoops camp for the Eagle squad.

As soon as their own camp ends, members of the Eagles will board a van and head to Lubbock, Texas, to participate in the Bobby Knight Basketball School at Texas Tech.

"I think with these camps, ours and the Texas Tech camp, it'll help us come together more as a team," said Southwest's shooting guard Bradley Goff. "This will be the first time we all go out of the state together for something like this. So, I think it'll be really good for us as a team."

Southwest's connection to the Texas Tech camp comes from recently acquired assistant coach Les Boop, who is godson to Knight.

The girls basketball coach at Calipatria High School the last five years, Boop stepped down as coach in late April.

After weighing his options, Boop decided to join Zwart about a month ago.

"I've been here unofficially about four weeks now working with Marty and these players, and things really are coming together," said Boop, who had previous coaching stints at Imperial High before Calipatria and at Utah State. "I'd say, looking at this camp we're running here, 50 percent of it is just trying to get our boys working together and getting them involved.

"I think what they're doing, working with these younger kids, doing things we've taught them, they have a whole new appreciation for what we do as coaches," said Boop.

As much as Zwart and Boop are trying to get their own players to appreciate coaching responsibilities, they also are hoping the extra time spent together will help the players gel even more as a team.

Part of that process, along with participating in camps, will be a handful of games the team will play during the summer.

The Eagles are scheduled to play in 18 games, six of which will be individual games with the rest coming in tournaments. As soon as they're finished at Texas Tech, the Eagles will stop off in Yuma to compete in a tournament.

"Once you get to July 26, you hit a dead period where you can't play or practice," said Zwart. "So we're loading them up with these camps, tournaments and all these games. Oh man, it's wonderful. I just love this stuff."

Zwart's desire and passion for the game is starting to rub off on his players, especially when it comes to their camp.

"If you look at this camp, I think what we're doing is pretty fun. It's cool teaching these kids about basketball … teaching them things we know about the game," said Smith. "I remember going to camps when I was younger and looking up to some of the guys that were helping with that.

"Back then, I never thought I'd be the one helping run camps, but here I am," Smith said. "Hopefully, one of these days, these kids here will be in the same situation and doing the same thing we're doing."

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