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New Castle basketball school an asset to players

Phil Sandoval

NEW CASTLE – To kids throughout the valley Mike Cox is the Zen master of basketball.

And they like what he’s been preaching.

After opening his Four Seasons Basketball School six months ago, boys and girls from second grade through high school have joined the program in ever-increasing numbers.

Cox currently has 85 students from throughout the valley enrolled in his year-round program, and more are looking to join up.

Students from as far west as DeBeque along with players from Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Silt and New Castle attend Cox’s nightly instruction sessions at Riverside Middle School.

One of the school’s students, John O’Brian, who lives in Jensen, Utah, but was staying with relatives in New Castle, was so impressed with 4 Season Basketball School, he rearranged his entire summer to continue in the program.

“He was only going to be here for a couple weeks,” said Cox of O’Brian’s decision. “He came to two sessions, and he called home and said, `Mom, I’m staying here this summer.’ That was pretty neat.”

Cox said the idea of starting the 4 Season Basketball School grew from private coaching sessions he conducted with his son, Kasey, a member of the DeBeque High School varsity and former Rifle High star, Andy Gardineer, when they were younger.

“We brought a few more kids in, and we would work on the finer points of the game, shooting especially, and more kids wanted to join us,” Cox said of the program’s growth.

“There’s a love of the game in our area. So I talked to Andy and Kasey, and told them this was the time to open this to the public and it turned out very well.”

Cox and his son both coach the students along with Shelley and Andy Gardineer.

Teaching sessions are two hours long and have a maximum coach-student ratio of eight players working with one coach.

The small instruction ratio, Cox says, allows each player to receive individualized support from a coach to work on their skills.

Then the students get to put those skills to work in league games on Saturdays.

The school has boys and girls ranging in age from third-graders to college. Upon enrolling, Cox puts all new students in a skill-builder for two weeks, then places the student in an age- and/or talent-appropriate teaching group.

Generally, instruction groups encompass second-to-fourth-graders, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th and high school and above students.

Cox emphasized that instruction at the 4 Season Basketball school is more than kids taking set shots at a basket.

He said a major flaw of many of the younger players who enter his program is a lack of the game’s fundamental skills.

Cox feels that strong knowledge of fundamentals is important to a player’s success.

“We’re working very hard to teach the correct shooting form and footwork. Fundamentals is part of the game that many coaches don’t have enough time to teach thouroghly during the regular season,” he said.

“(The) 4 Seasons (Basketball School) was developed to give ball players the opportunity to improve all year,” continued Cox.

Cox’s basketball school also gives kids additional confidence to tryout for school and/or club teams and the opportunity to continue playing the sport at a competitive level.

To that effect, Cox and his coaching staff has each student begin every session shooting 100 “form shots” from one-to-two-feet from the basket before progressing to other drills.

“This is an individual offensive skills school,” said Cox. “I’m taking care of one part, and the hardest is offense.The toughest thing to do is getting your shot down,” he explained.

The current instruction schedule ranges from 4 to 8:30 p.m. weekdays. Additional shooting workouts are held Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Cox also runs a Saturday basketball league at Riverside Middle School where all kids who come through the door are welcome to play.

Further information, including costs and registration can be obtained by calling Cox at 984-0332 or by e-mail to coachmike@4seasonsbasketball.com.

Or on the internet at http://www.4seasonsbasketball.com


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