FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Dozens of children in grades four to eight are involved in this year’s recreational league, which provides a weekly opportunity for them to learn new skills and develop friendships.
“The aim is to get them to have fun,” said volunteer coach Tristan Brown, who has two children involved with the program. “Some of them will have the competitive spirit, but I think the basic goal is for all the kids to come out and enjoy themselves just playing basketball together.”
Many of the players are getting involved with the program for the first time, whether because of a recent permanent change of station move to Fort Campbell or a newfound love for basketball.
“This is my first time playing, and I wanted to sign up because of the games I saw on TV,” said Michael Wharton, age 10. “My favorite things about Youth Sports are shooting hoops and making friends.”
Brown, who has previously coached for recreational games in Clarksville, said diversity means it’s important to give the children individual attention so they can learn based on their skill level.
“Kids who are playing organized basketball for the first time are able to learn the fundamentals of team play and how to pass to each other,” he said. “Some of the more experienced kids may learn a different style of play like how to push the ball on a fast break or learn more about the fundamentals of playing defense or shooting.”
David Clark, age 14, said he appreciates the opportunity to grow as a player with each passing week.
“This is my first season,” he said. “It’s fun making friends and playing basketball, and every week I’m able to practice and get better.”
Brown said working with military children is rewarding because they respond well to constructive criticism and are willing to follow instructions.
“Practices have been pretty spirited, and I wasn’t anticipating the level some of these kids are at but they’ve all been very eager to learn,” he said. “It’s been very easy to communicate with them during practice because they’re always listening and asking questions. I think that’s probably the biggest thing, the level of discipline from the kids.”
The children will put that spirit into practice on the court this Saturday, and Brown is looking forward to seeing them enjoy their first game.
“It’s been an enjoyable experience coaching so far, and I think with the amount of kids on Fort Campbell we could see an even greater amount of participation,” he said. “I definitely think the program is worthwhile, and if you have a kid that’s interested in any sort of sport, Youth Sports is perfect.”