By Ray Hamill — At least one local AAU basketball program is hoping to see a return to action by next month, with the possibility of some big summer tournaments still on the cards as well.
Team Beasts club director Eddy Vainuku and his players have been keeping busy during the lockdown, with constant communication and workout schedules.
Vainuku says he wants his players to be ready when the action does resume, and he believes that could be sooner rather than later.
With the Las Vegas and the West Coast Elite circuits already opening up again and preparing for tournaments in June and July, there will be options for the Eureka-based club to travel this summer if they are allowed to do so and if they choose to do so.
“The Vegas circuit is open again, and they just reached out to me,” Vainuku said. “And the West Coast Elite (in Oregon and Washington), they’re shooting for tournaments in June and July.”
Vainuku, however, says he will be cautious and will always put the safety of his players first, admitting that the parents of his players are split between wanting to go and not.
“I feel as a program we are all one family, and if if we don’t all go, then we don’t go at all,” he said.
At the very least, the Team Beasts director wants to arrange some games with other local AAU programs as soon as the county allows sports activities without spectators, which he hopes will be within the next month.
Vainuku believes it’s important for these players to get back to playing as soon as possible, as long as it’s safe to do so.
“With us owning our own gym, we don’t have to wait for the schools to allow us back, it’s under our own discretion,” he said.
The Beasts, who have continually grown in stature since being founded five years ago, were hoping for their biggest year yet before the shutdown.
“This year we had as strong a group of basketball teams as we’ve ever had,” Vainuku said. “This was going to be a fun year for us.”
The coaches and players, however, have been making the most of a difficult situation, including zoom meetings once or twice a week and continually encouraging the players to keep working on their game.
“We have a full online workout and we’ve been in full workout mode,” the club director said “We want all of our players to be ready when they give us the green light. We do strength and conditioning one week, and we do skills the next. We do the whole program we do at the gym.”