By Kevin Wilson
In March, Mark Gallegos finished his seventh season as the coach of the Portales Rams. This week, he’s working on his seventh Ram Fundamental basketball camp.
Though one has trailed the other chronologically for seven years, he sees the camps as something other than a symbolic closing of each season.
“This is the start of a new season,” Gallegos said during a break in Wednesday’s camp. “We’re getting ready for next season.”
The camp runs through today and goes in two sessions — one for boys entering grades 3-6 and one for boys entering grades 7-9. Gallegos said 79 boys signed up for the camps, which are usually thought of as the first step towards playing for the Rams.
“I can still remember when Chris Carter and Chris Kirchner were in this camp,” Gallegos said.
Those two, seniors on the 2004-05 Portales squad that finished as the State Class 3A runnerup, were at the camp again as instructors. Other instructors included Portales assistant coaches and players who will make up the next Ram roster.
Cruz Ontiveros, who will be a junior in the upcoming season, said the campers were picking things up quickly and that teaching the kids helps him understand what Gallegos is trying to teach during the basketball season.
By using the players as instructors, Gallegos said, the kids get to know the players better and the players become better because they see the game from a teaching perspective as well.
Players who have moved past the Ram camps now play for Portales in another series of camps through the summer. Gallegos said the team has had a good summer so far and went 4-2 last weekend in Taos.
Three boys teams are set to play for Portales during the upcoming Eastern New Mexico University team camps, which start Sunday at Greyhound Arena.
The Rams will have to recoup from the graduation of Carter and Kirchner, among others, but Ontiveros thinks that Portales will be able to adjust.
“We’ll be a team to look out for,” Ontiveros said, “if we play good defense.”