A herd of Mighty Mini Burros stampeded the basketball court to play their own miniature games during halftime of the South Park versus Custer County High School home game Feb. 1.
“I feel that we had an outstanding turnout this year. This camp was the first one of its kind at South Park and was a learning curve from the peewees to the coaches. The plan is to hold a camp every season as we move forward with learning and changes happening all the time,” South Park High School assistant boys’ basketball coach Preston Springer said.
“I feel basketball is important to student-athletes because it helps students strive for individual goals while building as a team member. The better the team member is, the better the individual’s goal.”
This was not the first time that the Mini Burros had been on the court; in fact they had been in training with high school coaches, Bill Wishowski and Preston Springer, and players during the first annual peewee basketball clinic Jan. 18 and 25.
“It is important for the high school players to run the camp, so they can give back and learn the positive influence that they have on the younger students. The ball players teaching the younger students are something that they both get to remember and feel good about in the years to come,” Springer said.
The clinic was hosted by the South Park High School boys’ basketball team (Daigen Springer, TJ Peter, Collin Moore, Michael Groome, Michael Kelley, John Saucedo, Aron Susic, Hector Almeida, Elias Esparza, Leo Banuelos, Michael Wishowski, Liam Goettleman, Caleb Lindberg and Bobby Wallace), along with members of the South Park High School girls’ basketball team (Morgan and Jordan Burnett, Piper and Alyssa Davis and Haley Goble).
This gave the aspiring athletes from kindergarten through fifth grade the opportunity to learn the basic fundamentals and rules of the sport, work with their high school role models, and create a foundation for future teamwork in four hours each day.
“I feel the kids did learn some basic understanding of the game at the younger ages and possibly a little bit more as the age groups rose,” Springer said.
The generously proportioned attendance of 42 elementary athletes over the three-week expansion allowed for six separate teams to play during the halftimes of the boys junior varsity, girls varsity, and boys varsity games.
“We had decided on groups of teams based upon grade level; kindergarten and first graders, second and third graders, and fourth and fifth graders. From there, the teams were chosen on a division of talent and skill in their age group,” Springer said.
Coached and refereed by the varsity boys basketball players, entertainment kicked off with the kindergarten and first grade groups. Although at times the ball seemed to be chased more than shot, the Mini Burro players demonstrated their knowledge learned at the camp by playing both offense and defense. In the short time frame allowed, Quinton Springer was able to make the only basket in the game for a Green Team win.
In the following game of second and third graders, evidence of additional knowledge progressed as players attempted to stick to the rules of dribbling, moving the ball down the court, and using the defensive slide to stop attackers from reaching the hoop. Each team fought for a shot, but tied the game at the end.
Finally, the Mini Burros wrapped up with the fourth and fifth grade teams, which were coached and refereed by the varsity girls and junior varsity boys basketball players.
Showing off their talents, the players demonstrated what they had learned by driving the lanes, using teamwork of passing and screens to get the ball where it needed to be, and shooting on the open hoop. While many shot attempts were made, Jarrett Nevius was able to score the only basket in the game for a Gold Team win.
“It is important to introduce kids into athletics at an early age to start the learning process of the sport. Like being a student, an athlete needs to learn and understand the game,” Springer said.
“This happens easier if it is introduced at a younger age and then studied, practiced, and developed as the student ages. While we did have a few standouts to list, such as Jackson Wilson (2nd grade), Jarrett Nevius (5th grade), Sean Arellano (4th grade), Quinton Springer (1st grade), Devlin Ebel (3rd grade), Angelina Springer (4th grade), and Victor Almeida (5th grade), but I believe that we reached several additional kids with an interest in the sport. It’s our hope to get them involved and understand the sport to help build and maintain the program in the school.”
At the cost of only $20 per child, each Mini Burro received a game jersey and the opportunity to get their first court experiences, while having a great time in the process. The remaining proceeds of the camp are to go towards the necessary equipment needed for the South Park High School basketball program.