Members of the Warwick and Rhode Island basketball community gathered at the Boys and Girls Club in Warwick on Sunday morning for a free youth basketball clinic.
Pilgrim coach Matt Fontaine, Toll Gate coach Tom Rayko, former Vets coach Jim Garcia and former La Salle coach Eric Simonelli headed the clinic, which taught kids the basics of the sport and touched on some of the finer details as well.
Whether it was passing, jump shots, or simply gaining a better handle of the speed of the action, the coaches focused on working from the ground up with over 50 local players.
“We had kids that came with a variety of skill sets. At that age, you really just want them to learn the fundamentals. As you get older you can begin to fine tune certain things, but at this level, especially once you get to the high school level, the fundamentals are what you really want to see kids excel in,” said Fontaine.
Fontaine also touched on the importance of offering these free clinics to Rhode Island cities, and feels that they not only help prepare kids for the present, but for the future as well.
“It’s huge. You look at a lot of the top public schools, teams like North Kingstown, East Greenwich, West Warwick, those teams are known for having some of the top youth programs and you can see that at the high school level with some of the teams that they have had. This is where it all starts, if you come in as a ninth grader and don’t have the fundamentals down, then you’re already behind the 8-ball. This is where it all starts,” said Fontaine.
Plans are already in place to bring the clinic back for another summer, and the coaches involved are already trying to squeeze in one more session during the fall as well.
“We hope to bring it back and we’re already talking about getting another clinic ready for Columbus Day. We want to continue to build that youth program with the Boys and Girls Club. We want them to be playing and we want them to be playing with kids in Warwick,” said Fontaine. “We want them to be playing from the youth level all the way through high school and we want to build a solid youth program.”