THATCHER — Being a new coach for Thatcher High School hasn’t stopped Robby Martindale from getting a summer camp going.
Having once played basketball for EAC (and met his wife there), Martindale has returned to the Gila Valley to coach and spread the love of basketball.
“We got this going completely from scratch. When I got hired, they didn’t have anything going. We didn’t think we were going to have very many, but this shows how supportive the entire community is with basketball in general. Our camp isn’t just a Thatcher camp. We tried to promote it as a Gila Valley thing. We had a great turnout,” Martindale said.
Turnout exceeded well more than 100 campers spread over all three sessions, and campers got to learn and hone fundamentals, along with key skills including shooting and boxing out.
“The main thing we’re focusing on is fundamentals. I think it gets overlooked. It’s the fundamentals of how to correctly make a pass, how to dribble the ball and boxing out. Some people just skip over the correct way to box out. A lot of kids have really loved that drill because they’ve gotten to be more physical with a teammate,” Martindale said.
Camper Lexi Mack recently turned 8 and just started playing basketball on day one of camp.
“Basketball is fun. My favorite part is shooting baskets.” Mack said, adding that she’s not a big fan of the shooting game knockout yet.
Camper Hudson said, “I’ve been playing basketball for five years. This is my favorite sport. I love shooting. I’ve learned to shoot better with my left hand.”
Martindale has been able to connect with players who will be a part of the 2019-20 season. However, many are focusing heavily on football at the moment.
“They’re dedicated to trying to repeat for the fourth time, so we’re hoping they’ll carry that over come the basketball season,” Martindale said. “But this has been a great opportunity for our younger kids. We’ve had a lot of freshmen and sophomores come up and play at the varsity level, and it’s made a huge difference. It’s been a great experience for them.”