Kayla Ford takes a shot over the out-stretched arms of the defense in practice Tuesday at Sunset Elementary School. Ford wants to make it to the WNBA.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Kayla Ford takes a shot over the out-stretched arms of the defense in practice Tuesday at Sunset Elementary School. Ford wants to make it to the WNBA.

Taking a shot

Craig area youths learn to shoot hoops

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Kayla Ford takes a shot over the out-stretched arms of the defense in practice Tuesday at Sunset Elementary School. Ford wants to make it to the WNBA.

— Toni Keleher stands in the center of the Ridgeview Elementary School gymnasium, attempting to keep a watchful eye on her team.

Keleher isn't just a basketball coach. She's a mom who wants her kids, and others kids, to be able to play basketball.

So, she gives up a few hours of her time each day to teach children the basics of basketball.

Dribbling, passing and shooting, but most importantly, she teaches them sportsmanship, along with values and virtues.

"When these kids compete," Keleher said, "we want them to have fun. When they walk off the court, I want them to leave like ladies and gentlemen."

Keleher wants to develop team chemistry and effort.

"We want to see a complete team effort by the kids when they play," she said. "Interaction of the team is key. We aren't trying to develop any superstars here."

Weston Jeffcoat has different ideas.

Jeffcoat has aspirations to be like his favorite basketball player: Michael Jordan.

"I want to play in high school and college. Maybe even go pro someday," he said. "Basketball is just fun."

Keleher's team - team No. 28 - is like the other teams at this level. It is squads of third-graders and fourth-graders, who don't just want to shoot hoops, some want to take it further.

Emily Keleher, who is a huge Denver Nuggets fan, has the itch to make it pro as well.

"I want to be in the WNBA," she said. "For now, I just like the exercise."

Coach Keleher's assistant, Sarah Fox, said the basics are what she's after.

"We want to teach them not to travel, no double-dribbling and teamwork," she said.

Fox knows about teamwork. She grew up playing basketball with her five sisters.

"We want them to enjoy the game," she said, "and most of all, to have fun."

Walk to the other side of the gym, and you will find another team practicing on Sunset's 8-foot rims.

Maranda Carlson, coach of team No. 2, works her team through passing drills.

Carlson, who played basketball at Moffat County High School, is in her first year coaching kids at this level.

"I have coached the older kids before," she said. "Now, for me, I just want them to understand the game fully by the end of the season."

Kayla Ford is a veteran basketball player of five years; she started way back in kindergarten.

Ford likes the Nuggets and Michael Jordan.

"I want to play like Mike," she said. "Make it to the WNBA. I love to listen to the crowd and the parents all cheering. That's the cool part about basketball."

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