TERRE HAUTE —
West Vigo girls basketball coach Ryan Easton hopes to have a consistent, winning high school program.
The 10th-year coach of the Vikings has started a program for elementary-age girls at the West Terre Haute Community Center. Those future Vikings were honored on the floor of the Jim Mann Green Dome prior to last week’s Western Indiana Conference matchup against Northview.
The varsity players have worked with the youngsters one night each week during the season, helping introduce them to the fundamental skills of basketball such as ball handling and passing.
“I just love working with little kids. It’s fun to see them catch on to things,” West Vigo senior guard McKenzie Little said last week during one of those sessions.
Easton’s twin daughters Maci and Ellie were among the aspiring hoopers responding to their dad’s requests, such as “no wussy passes.”
With plenty of individual instruction from the West Vigo players combined with group competitions with their friends, getting the girls involved and having fun is the emphasis.
“A lot of the girls now are doing this and the Boys and Girls Club,” Easton said. “But we don’t want them burned out. This is designed to have fun and to expose them to it. We’ll get them all the Xs and Os stuff down the line. Right now, it’s fundamentals, getting a ball in their hands.”
While having the coach who leads the varsity program helps, the future Vikings gravitate to the high school student-athletes.
“It’s definitely a really good experience. Showing them the right way to play basketball. Getting connected to the girls is always a lot of fun,” West Vigo junior Charity Lane said.
The Vikings have a little shorter practice than usual on Wednesday and head to the community center.
“The high schoolers love it. I tell them all the time, these little eyes are always watching you,” Easton said. “My children can tell you the names and numbers for almost every girl that graduated for me. They don’t always realize how much they look up to them.”
Easton hopes it becomes a part of the program’s tradition.
“It’s not about developing for a state championship, it’s about exposing them. But maybe a couple of them, it clicks and it may pay off,” Easton said. “We’ve got enough [players] in the program now that they can rotate every other week. I think they’d miss it if we said we weren’t going to do it.”
The Vikings (5-3) play Thursday at Terre Haute North and Saturday at Brown County this week.