For Guy Tompkins, passion for the sport of basketball starts from the ground up, and that's exactly what he plans on teaching.
Recently, Tompkins started HoopRat Basketball, a program for all ages, genders and skill levels geared toward teaching kids the fundamentals of the sport.
"(The program) was started because I have my daughter and two nephews that are the same age," he said. "I started training them, then our friends started coming along and (the program) just grew from there."
Tompkins said this is what he loves to do - coach basketball. In the past, Tompkins coached the sport for the better part of eight years in Sydney, Australia, where he developed Jaam Basketball.
He said at that point, he started the program with about 250 members, and increased that number to 750 people within a year. Given Sydney's market size, he said that program was more of a league-format with many teams. Eventually, he outgrew the space he had, and now he has brought a vision to Juneau of a skill-building program for those interested in learning.
"This is my passion, and right now I figured I had some extra time on my hands, so this is what I'm doing," Tompkins said.
As for the goal of the program, Tompkins said he hopes to address some needs that are not part of other basketball programs in the city.
"We want them to be able to read the game," he said. "If they don't know how to read a game, it doesn't matter whether they know how to run an offense."
Tompkins said recently his group played in a HoopTime tournament where they realized the value of the fundamentals of the sport, and that is what he hoped they would learn from the experience.
While HoopTime has created a successful program in the community, Tompkins said he is taking a different approach, one that is less competitive and will hopefully encourage kids to develop a love for the sport from the ground up while also teaching the basics of basketball.
"My perspective is that I think the kids are missing out on the fundamentals and the skill-building," he said.
Tompkins said that his biggest concern is that he doesn't want kids to quit the sport, regardless of skill. His plan is to involve kids from ages 8-18 in the sport of basketball, but still leave them the opportunity to play in other leagues or programs.
"We do it for (no charge). Kids can come out here, have fun and learn the game," he said. "They can play for HoopTime and Parks and Rec, too."
The group meets at the University of Alaska Southeast gymnasium from 2-4 p.m. every Sunday and Tompkins said any kids interested in learning the sport are welcome. However, times are subject to change, and any information on those changes can be seen on their Web site, www.hoopratsbasketball.com.
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