A talented band of young basketball players are preparing for the time of they will be the Jaguar Varsity. In 15 years they ought to really be something.
Chula Vista Youth Sports (CVYS) basketball players ranging in age from 3 to 9 now call Southwestern College home. This is the first year children from Chula Vista teamed up to learn how to play basketball, said head coach Netzer Ruperto, but he said he wants to teach children more than just how to play the game.
“Our emphasis is on building self-esteem and character through positive reinforcement,” he said. “Those were the things I was brought up with, so I just want to pass it on.”
In an eight-week program players will learn the rules and fundamentally of basketball through a series of exercises and scrimmages. Dribbling the ball can be hard for these little athletes, but they can practice their skills during the Saturday morning games.
Parent Amy Warren said sports can help children develop as people.
“It teaches them how to work as a team,” she said. “It’s an important lifestyle.”
Parents or guardians who want to enroll their children must pay a small fee, but do not have to deal with the stress of having their young athletes compete with other teams. All games are internal.
Nine-year-old Trent Warren says his favorite part is playing defense and shooting the ball.
“I like pushing people away with my booty,” he said.
CVYS coach Kyle Colwell said seeing his three-year-old son and other children grow as players and individuals was one of the biggest highlights of the season.
“They’re three years old, four years old − they don’t know how to play,” he said. “So just watching all of them develop and start passing to teammates, making shots where they hadn’t before (is impressive).”
CVYS coaches hope to expand the selection of sports children can experiment with, including volleyball.
Ruperto said many parents have begun seeing changes in their children’s character.
“Some of them have come out of their shell,” he said. “Personality wise, they are more outgoing and outspoken.”
Five-year-old Nate Balte said he has big plans in his future.
“I want to be LeBron James and play for the Heat!” he said.
Check back in 16 years.