Coordinator: Tahnee Robinson camp was about quality, not quantity

By Larissa L. Jimmy
Navajo Times

CHINLE, July 25, 2013

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(Times photo – Larissa L. Jimmy)

Tahnee Robinson, the first Native American to be drafted by a Women's National Basketball Association team, facilitated a camp for the youth in Chinle last week.

E ven though the turn out for the Tahnee Robinson basketball camp wasn't exactly what the coaches expected, it was quality not quantity for some of the young athletes who participated.

At least that's how Chinle Junior High eighth-grader Caitlin Nez sees it.

"I like how there are less kids here and there is more attention on us," said Nez, one of the participants. "If there were more kids here there would be less attention on us because the coaches would be trying to help everybody. This way we get more teaching."

On the sidelines of the court keeping an eagle-eye focus on the athlete's every move was Women's Professional Basketball Association player Tahnee Robinson, Chinle High's athletic director and boy's basketball coach Charles Gover (also Robinson's grandfather), and Thatcher High's point guard Sheridan Nodestine.

Nez, 13, who plays on community league basketball teams, said that she hopes to learn ways to improve on her shooting skills through the camp.

During the whole morning session of the camp the nine youngsters worked on and focused on the basic drills and skills. They worked on ball handling, dribbling, passing, shooting and defensive drills.

When it came to shooting drills, the participants practiced the proper form of shooting by shooting until they saw the spin in each shot.

According to Gover, when the basketball hits the floor, the already-spinning basketball should be able to bounce right back to the player.

Sneakers screeched on the floors of the Chinle Wildcat Den as each player worked on down-the-court passing and chest throws.

Bryan Beaver St. Clair, from Lander, Wyo., says that he's learned a lot since being at the camp.

"I'm learning how to box out," he said, "how to shoot a lay-up right without having it roll because I guess they (Chinle) lost a few championships that way, with the finger roll."

St. Clair, who usually plays in tournaments, said what was taught at the camp are teachings that he is going to take away with him as he continues to pursue the sport of basketball. One day, he said, he hopes to turn it into a professional career like his cousin Tahnee, but for either the Denver Nuggets or the New York Knicks.

"I know it's going to take a lot of hard work, but I hope to gain more experience from my uppit (Pawnee for grandpa) and my cousin Tahnee. I want to learn what they have to say about basketball and I'll take it with me," said the ambitious 10-year-old, whose forte is the three-point jumper.

Despite the turnout of the camp, Robinson said that she is happy with the group that they do have.

"They're really paid close attention to the close details that we are showing them and I feel like they are responding really well, we got good kids," said Robinson, who practices her shooting skills by shooting 500 shots a day. "Overall, for me, whether I'm able to help one or 10 kids I'm happy with it. And I just want them to have hope."

According to Robinson, who recently returned back from a three week USA All-Star game in China, said this is her second camp that she's facilitated.

Robinson said she wanted to hold more basketball camps for young athletes this summer, but due to a busy schedule and her Sept. 1 trip overseas, she is unable to.

However, she said she does eventually plan on having more camps, including one in Canada next summer.

"Maybe next summer we'll be a little more organized and we'll get to spread out the camp a little bit more," said Robinson.

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