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Getting game

By: Jim Linsdau Sports Editor
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I took the time this weekend to drive over to Rocklin High School to observe the free basketball training camp going on there sponsored by 1 Percent Club. I was 100 percent impressed. I expected to see a lot of young children running up and down the basketball court trying to dribble while four teammates screamed, “pass me the ball.” But instead, I saw a bunch of hard-working kids trying to dribble across court straining against an elastic belt held back by two of their peers. Odd. It wasn’t anything like a typical basketball practice; it was an organized drill complete with woofers and tweeters while NBA professional skill trainer Jeremy Russotti spoke into a headset microphone. He not only called out instructions, but encouragement, as well. I went not so much out of curiosity, but because I support any organization that supports the efforts of young athletes. What I found out was something that turned out to be considerably more than support. “One Percent Club is a company founded by Jeremy Russotti, where we teach kindergartners all the way to professionals skill development in basketball,” said 1 Percent Club’s Philippe Doherty, former basketball coach, event coordinator, and longtime friend of Russotti. “We do basketball training at its most functional use, so what Jeremy did about eight years ago, we started training a few select high school kids.” The result of that training was a marked improvement of those high school athletes once they got into college. After that, Russotti and Doherty turned their attentions to younger players looking forward to high school. They found the younger cagers improved as rapidly as did the older ones. This intrigued me since I have a close friend, who works for USA Today, who began a survey to find out how many three-sport athletes still exist at the prep level – if any. It appeared only the smaller schools had such players, and even that was fading. Doherty said the training methods used by 1 Percent Club were “functional” because it wasn’t confined to just basketball. It improves an athlete’s skills regardless of their chosen sport. In fact, Doherty said those who don’t make the cut in one sport are able to take up another without difficulty. That means, an athlete who aspires to play one sport can move to a second, or third, without giving up hope of playing their favorite. That’s good since there is no better time to discover where one’s heart really is than in high school. “Everything is games now, everybody plays games” said Russotti, who said he is trying to change that culture. “With our curriculum, we’re getting data and that’s where the credibility comes in. We started in Rocklin and we hope to become the ambassadors all over the world.” Lofty goals, indeed, but that’s not unusual for this area. It’s a locale that, if not on the cutting edge, is constantly searching for it. I can’t say whether 1 Percent Club is the answer, but I also can’t say it isn’t. However, if it means kids could enjoy high school sports without the concern of whether they’ll get an opportunity to play them, I’m behind it 100 percent.