CAPTION: Students practice on court basketball drills while wearing masks and social distancing.
By Anisha Dhakal,
The annual City of Davis Youth Basketball League has been canceled for the 2021 season due to current social distancing protocols. Instead, the City of Davis has offered co-ed basketball camps to third through sixth graders. The camps run until March 12 at various elementary schools around town and are open to everyone regardless of the elementary school they attend.
Senior Jason Firpo is finishing up his second year coaching for the camps. “This year is very different because we have to take extra precautions to ensure that everyone is safe. We sanitize the balls every 30 minutes, check temperatures and give out hand sanitizer. We just don’t want to risk spreading germs,” Firpo said.
Each group includes a maximum of 10 students, split based upon grade levels, per coach. Each 90-minute practice is split into two parts with 40 minutes on the court and 40 minutes off of the court. Drills and exercises are up to the discretion of each coach.
Firpo prefers to include relay races to build up various skills, as scrimmaging is not allowed due to social distancing protocols. “I try to choose the drills that not only teach them how to get better at basketball but also have fun like a lot of games because at the end of the day and the overall goal of the camp is for the kids to have a good time playing basketball,” Firpo said.
Similarly, second-year coach junior Younes Chantit implements drills into games that practice shooting, layups and defensive slides so that kids can learn fundamental basketball skills in a safe, yet enjoyable environment.
Unfortunately, it can often be difficult to manage several elementary school children. “The kids want to be close to each other but it’s not possible so I usually ask them to social distance themselves from each other. If I have to ask them multiple times I usually make them run to a tree and back, so they’re still doing something and not just watching their peers play, while they’re sitting out,” Chantit said.
Nevertheless, Chantit and Firpo both enjoy sharing their passion for basketball with the kids.
“I started in 6th grade because back home in Morocco and there were big tournaments and my brother was the best at the school and I wanted to live up to his name. The kids I coach are around the same age as when I started so I want them to enjoy the sport as well,” Chantit said.
“Playing for all those years inspired [me] to want to become a coach because when I was doing the program I thought the high school people who were coaching were the coolest people ever so I knew that I definitely wanted to do the same when I was a lot older and I’m glad that I did,” said Firpo.