In the midst of a rocky season, Maryville head girls basketball coach Grant Hageman has taken a proactive measure to help ensure better days are ahead for his program.
Every Wednesday night over the past four weeks, Hageman and his two assistant coaches have hosted a youth basketball clinic at Maryville Middle School for girls in grades two through six.
The weekly clinics were created this year as a way to generate interest in girls basketball at the grass-roots level in Maryville.
"My vision of trying to develop this was trying to get Maryville girls playing at a younger age and more girls interested in basketball," said Hageman. "I think it's a fun activity, a fun sport. There's really nothing else going on in the winter. It's good to see them out here, just having fun and playing basketball. If it helps a couple more girls stay with basketball a little bit longer and that benefits them, then it benefits everybody."
Hageman says the clinics have averaged around 30 girls a week, all from Maryville.
The Maryville coaching staff of Hageman, assistant Todd Shifflett and assistant Hannah Erspamer serve as the instructors, focusing mainly on the basic fundamentals of the game.
Hageman says grasping the fundamentals at an early age is extremely important to a players development.
"There are so many skills to learn," said Hageman. "If they don't learn the fundamentals when they're young, sometimes you can't have a lot of success. If you don't have the fundamentals, a lot of girls don't stick with it. We want to get them the base part of basketball, so they can continue to play when they're older and have success."
Along with the instruction provided by the high school coaching staff, coaches and players from the Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team stopped by recently to lend their expertise.
In addition, they arranged for all the players at the clinic to come watch their game with Missouri Western Feb. 20 at Bearcat Arena.
"The girls are really excited about it," said Hageman. "That was great that Northwest and their players and coaches came out and worked with them. It was really cool to see their players and coaches take these girls through drills and the girls loved it. Some of these girls are already dreaming about playing in college some day."
There's one more youth clinic scheduled for this season on Wednesday night. Hageman plans to start it back up prior to the next girls basketball season in October or November.
By then, Hageman hopes to have even more elementary school-aged players in attendance.
The Lady Hounds (5-17) play their final home game tonight against Nebraska City and end the regular season Thursday night at Savannah.
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