Story and photo by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s 2013 High School basketball season at Nile C. Kinnick officially began with tryouts for both the junior varsity and the varsity boys and girls teams Nov. 12.
In 2012, the Red Devils boys’ varsity team finished 17-12, tied for the Kanto Plain Championship but finished in 11th place at the Far East Championship Tournament. Returning players for the varsity squad are senior point guard Casuan Caudle, senior center Rynne Yates, senior forward Dymond Simmons and junior shooting guard/forward Kyle O’Brien.
“We have a lot of young players on the team from junior varsity last year,” said Stovall. “While this may be their first taste of play at this level, I can say that they are a hard working bunch and I think we are capable of achieving a lot with them. I think our ultimate goal as coaches is to duplicate the goals of teams in the United States.”
Stovall feels very comfortable with the group he has to this point.
“Right now, we are a mixture of new and old, so my focus is on team work ethic,” said Stovall. “I want these guys to get to know each other, to gel with one another and this is where I am going to rely on my returning players to help me with.
This season will also feature the volunteer work of Operations Specialist Chief Petty Officer Acie Blocton, a Sailor from Center for Combat Systems Command (CSCS) Detachment, Yokosuka, Japan, who will be the boys’ junior varsity coach.
“We have a pretty good group,” said Blocton. “We have a few kids that need a little more work than others but that is expected. The real purpose of junior varsity is to groom players and develop them to achieve on the next level of play. I feel that this is a strong point of mine and I feel that by the end of the season, we will get them all on track.”
Blocton, who is also the boys head coach for the Yokosuka Express Youth Basketball team on the middle school level, is also an experienced tournament player in various MWR-sponsored leagues. He wants to infuse some of his experience and coaching smarts into the Nile C. Kinnick program while hopefully continue to build on what Stovall has already established.
“I just enjoy coaching the game of basketball,” said Blocton. “Coaching kids to me is something really special. I just get a pleasure working with kids; seeing their energy and watching them grow and mature before your eyes. It is something that you never forget.”
For the Lady Red Devils, there are two returning players for varsity from the 2012 team that finished the season at 23-3 to become the DoDDS Japan and Far East Champions; the junior varsity team finished undefeated at 19-0, taking home the Kanto Plains League/Tournament Championship in the process.
“We have an entirely new cast of players this season,” said Mike Adair, this years’ junior varsity coach. “The biggest thing I want the girls to do is to represent Nile C. Kinnick High School well in everything they do; both on and off the court and also to become a “family” of players again.”
The previous season, Adair coached the junior varsity as well, and this season special education teacher Heather Lee Heatherly will come in as the new varsity head coach.
“I am pretty excited about this challenge because this is my opportunity to get out of my comfort zone in teaching and to meet more girls,” said Heatherly. “The girls won Far East last year and because of that, we have a lot to live up to,” said Heatherly. “But my goals are to focus on teamwork and sportsmanship, while hopefully retaining our status as champions.”
Heatherly is in her fourth year of teaching at Nile C. Kinnick, but this is her first year of teaching the X’s and O’s of basketball, something that Heatherly is still adjusting to.
“The main focus right now is fundamentals,” said Heatherly. “Some girls have played in Jr. High or Morale and Welfare Recreation–oriented basketball but, we still feel that we need to concentrate on the bare basics; from dribbling and shooting to passing and defensive stance.”
The season starts Nov. 26 with the boys traveling to Zama American and the girls playing Zama American in Kinnick Gym today; junior varsity at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.