CARROLLWOOD – Ivan Romero hasn’t had a lot of time to play basketball lately, and that’s too bad.
Romero, an athletic trainer and physical education teacher at Corbett Preparatory School, can shoot the lights out. He can dribble around a double-team, and knows the fundamentals, a skill sorely lacking in today’s basketball scene.
He’s looking for a league to play in and, for now, he’s happy just teaching kids in the co-ed mini-basketball league at Corbett Prep. The children listen to him because he brings plenty of street cred every time he walks in to the gym.
Romero played 14 years of professional basketball in his native Columbia before moving to the United States. He watches a lot of hoops and sees that players are mostly lacking in fundamentals, either putting up a 3-point shot or driving to the rim. Romero grew up learning the game the right way and wants to share that with the kids in his basketball league.
“We try to teach them a different goal every day,” Romero said. “We get them to use three left-handed dribbles, then three with the right hand. We have drills teaching them to follow through. Every day it is something new, but it is about fundamentals.”
The games are played on 8-foot, 6-inch rims. Dunking is still out of the question, but since children in the league range from kindergarten to eighth grade, it’s a great way to learn the basic parts of the game and still be able to reach the rim for a jump shot.
Romero stresses the basics, but, more importantly, he focuses on fun.
“Our whole philosophy is about having fun,” Romero said. “Learning fundamentals can be boring, but, as long as it is fun, they go along with it. This whole camp and the league is not about basketball. We are trying to prepare them for life. If we can get that done, basketball just isn’t all that important.”
There are games every Saturday through Nov. 16.
“The main goal, whoever wins, is to get the kids to play better,” Romero said. “If I see them giving a really good effort, that’s better than winning and losing. If I need to work with them on shooting form, that’s as important than winning and losing.”
Romero has been operating his league for seven years and has seen several kids move on to big time high school careers. He works with Marvin Harvey, the Tampa shooting guru who runs the Marvin Harvey Basketball School of Excellence. The program isn’t designed to develop a future NBA player worthy of an eight-figure contract. It’s simply, Romero said, to let the kids have some fun with no pressure.
“It’s all about fun,” Romero said. “That’s why we do it.”
For more on the Corbett Prep Mini Basketball League, call Ivan Romero at (813) 961-3087.