Gateway: Sports

Peninsula hoops camp emphasizes fun, inclusiveness

Basketballs fly in the air as coach Matt Robles teaches proper shooting form during the Peninsula High School youth basketball camp at Peninsula High School on Monday.
Basketballs fly in the air as coach Matt Robles teaches proper shooting form during the Peninsula High School youth basketball camp at Peninsula High School on Monday. jbessex@gateline.com

New Peninsula High boys basketball coach Matt Robles is tired of moving furniture into his new condo in Tacoma, after arriving to the Pacific Northwest last Thursday.

So when the Seahawks basketball camp started Monday morning, it was a welcome break. And the first day of camp, which in turn was the first opportunity for Robles to get his feet wet at Peninsula, was a big success.

“It was great,” Robles said. “It went better than expected. We kind of put it together on short notice since I got hired so late. We had over 60 campers today. That just says a lot about the high school, the community. People are really involved. It’s really nice to see that.”

That kind of attendance wouldn’t have been likely a few years ago, according to junior Elijah McLaughlin.

When I moved here, there weren’t a lot of kids that played basketball at all. Once our program got bigger, there are so many more kids playing basketball. Gig Harbor is like a basketball city now.

Elijah McLaughlin, Peninsula junior

“When I moved here, there weren’t a lot of kids that played basketball at all,” McLaughlin said. “Once our program got bigger, there are so many more kids playing basketball. Gig Harbor is like a basketball city now.”

Campers spent the day learning fundamentals of the game and concluded with a big game of Knockout, or “Bump,” as it’s commonly known.

“We want to make sure they’re having fun, and two, we want to make sure we’re teaching them some kind of leadership skills through the fundamentals of basketball,” Robles said. “They’ve got good body language, their eyes are always on the speaker, whoever that is. I think if we do that through the game of basketball, it’s a successful event.”

Having a good time is the biggest things Robles wanted the campers to take away from the camp.

Hopefully, we can teach them a little something about basketball, some fundamentals, but the young kids, we want to make sure they’re having fun and they’re enjoying this time.

Matt Robles, Peninsula boys basketball coach

“I hope they had a positive experience and they had a blast,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. Hopefully, we can teach them a little something about basketball, some fundamentals, but the young kids, we want to make sure they’re having fun and they’re enjoying this time.”

The camp, while mostly boys, was also opened up to girls, and upward of 20 girls are participating. Peninsula girls basketball player Belle Frazier, a sophomore, stepped up to help coach. Robles was happy to accept her help and was excited she wanted to be part of the camp.

The young girls — it’s easier to understand and listen when it’s coming from a high school girl — they look up to her.

Matt Robles

“The young girls — it’s easier to understand and listen when it’s coming from a high school girl — they look up to her,” Robles said. “For me, they might listen but it might not mean as much. Belle did a great job. I was really happy she’s here. It says a lot about her as a person. She heard we need help and she just came out on her own. That’s awesome.”

While Robles is still getting to know his players, he could tell they were having a fun time coaching the kids up.

“They’re having a great time,” Robles said. “I think they’re really enjoying it because they get to be the coach now, instead of someone telling them what to do, we’re giving them the power. You lead them, do whatever drills you know, and just developing those leadership skills.”

McLaughlin said he sees it a different way.

“Knowing all (my teammates’) personalities and seeing them coaching, it’s kind of funny,” McLaughlin said with a laugh.

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