Basketball tryouts test physical, mental toughness in players

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 11/21/19

With the fall prep sports coming to an end, it is basketball that will now reign supreme in New Mexico over the coming months.

In Taos, it's no different.

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Basketball tryouts test physical, mental toughness in players

Posted

With the fall prep sports coming to an end, it is basketball that will now reign supreme in New Mexico over the coming months.

In Taos, it's no different.

On Monday evening (Nov. 18) around 30 student athletes participated in tryouts for the Taos boys basketball team, with many having hopes and aspirations of representing the school on the grandest of stages.

Sure, some will make junior varsity, while the freshmen and some of the younger kids will surely make the C team. But it's making the varsity squad that's most appealing.

And Hernando Chavez, the Taos boys basketball coach, made sure to make it a battle for those prized spots.

Monday's practice, unlike most practices, was a test to see who had the mental and physical toughness to play the game of basketball at a high level, Chavez said.

So with that mindset, Chavez made sure to test his kids with a variety of different drills. And it so happened to be that running made up a large part of it.

"A day like today you have to try out, make the team, of course," Chavez said. "But more than anything -- it's not a form of punishment -- it's about toughness. Today is all about toughness -- [both] physical and mental toughness. That's the price of admission, really."

It was tiring for the players, of course, but Chavez said that days where you run a bunch in tryouts are a key to how the style of basketball is played at Taos -- a grueling, high-pressure defense and a fast-paced style of offense.

It is one where "you gotta be well conditioned to play that style of basketball," Chavez said.

"It kicked us in the butt for sure," Noah Armijo said of the drills at tryouts. "It's all to get us better and when we go on the court and prove it this season, you'll see why we do it."

It wasn't until roughly a half past 4 p.m. -- more than an hour into practice -- that the boys at tryouts were able to shoot a basketball. When they did, they ran drills such as "Tiger Drill," where a group of players have to make, collectively, about 90 shots in just five minutes from areas like the elbow, the low-post and from beyond the 3-point line.

The last drill of the tryout, of course, consisted of running. Partners of two were asked to complete the drill in under 6 minutes -- and if they did, they wouldn't have to do it again during the next practice.

"Everybody push it," one kid yelled.

"Practice harder," Chavez was overheard telling the boys.

They didn't complete the drill in time, however. Players were upset, but mostly tired -- and, in many ways, uplifting toward one another.

Alejandro Gonzales, a senior, kept it positive at the end of the tryouts.

"I've seen some really positive actions from the team so far," Gonzales said.

This just happened to be the first step -- and certainly one of the hardest ones -- along the way.

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