The youth rec leagues in Fairfield not only keep kids off the streets and out of trouble, they teach future Trojans the game of basketball starting in third grade.
This allows the local youth to get six seasons of organized basketball under their belts by the time they hit FHS as freshman. During varsity home games in early December, fifth grade girls and sixth grade boys were featured at halftime and allowed to showcase their skills for friends and family on the big stage and larger high school basketball court.
The coaches talked about the programs details and importance.
Coach of 6th grade boys basketball team
Q) Tell us about this program.
A) We have a really good youth program here for basketball. We get them started in third grade and we try to get them as much exposure before they get to school ball as we can.
Q) What do you need to do to help cultivate success at the high school level?
A) We just need to make sure we?re teaching the skills at the younger levels that they need to be successful at the high school level.
Q) Do you interact with the coaches at the higher levels?
A) Yes, Coach Flattery does a nice job of making sure that the younger coaches have an idea of expectations and the terminology and insuring the same things that he?s doing with the varsity guys are worked on. I think the goal is always to end up with a feeder program that breeds success.
Coach of 5th grade girls basketball team
Q) Tell us about the team you coach.
A) It?s the Fairfield youth basketball program. Every grade level has a team from third through sixth and everyone is welcome. If we get more kids, we?ll have more teams. The fifth graders started practice in late November, and we hosted a tournament here in Fairfield on Dec. 9. We have all of January that we will play in the Albia league, and then we?ll probably do a couple of tournaments in February.
Q) Who do you play?
A) The fifth graders will play just fifth graders and there is just one team for Fairfield that consists of 10 girls. They?ve all been working their tails off to improve. We just played two very competitive games at Cardinal and we?re just starting out but improving everyday.
Q) Are you running basic drills, or do you have a philosophy you are already trying to implement from the varsity level?
A) Right now, we?re just starting out with the fundamentals. We?re teaching them how to dribble, shoot and pass and get into a basic offense. As we start progressing with them, we?ll start implementing more from the varsity level.
Q) What?s the biggest struggle coaching younger kids?
A) Just a lack of knowledge. We have to teach them everything and sometimes when you come in as a coach at the middle school level, someone has done all the work for you. We?re just getting them to understand the game and how it?s played. We?re teaching them everything and with just a couple days a week, it can be difficult.
Q) How long have you been doing this?
A) I?ve been involved with this group since they were in third grade, and before that I worked with my oldest daughter who is now in eighth grade. I?m pretty sure that the senior class now was a part of this organization too, so it?s been happening for a long time.
Q) Fairfield girls? basketball is very successful. Should we expect that to continue from what you see at the lower levels?
A) The ultimate goal is to keep feeding into the high school program so they?re ready at the varsity level.