Hess Developing Youth Hoopsters

Chic Hess

Chic Hess runs the Kailua Player Development Program. Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com

I was driving through my adopted hometown of Kailua the other day admiring the incredible beauty of the area – from its picturesque beaches to the palm trees along its inland waterways to the gorgeous ridges and mountains that hover over it. Kailua Town was bustling with excitement at the opening of the brand new Whole Foods store, and everyone seemed to walk around with smiles on their faces.

Yes, there are many reasons to come to Kailua. One of them, as it turns out, is a Saturday morning basketball clinic.

For the past several years, Chic Hess has quietly been running his Kailua Player Development Program for youngsters between ages 12 and 17.

“They come from all over the island,” he says. “We get about 20-30 kids each Saturday. Most are ninth- to 11th-graders,

although there are a few very talented seventh-graders. We get them from public school, private school; every kid is different. And they’re having fun.”

Those kids get to enjoy some Kailua sunshine, too, because the program takes place on the outdoor courts at St. Anthony School, beginning every Saturday at 9 a.m. “until the start of the new season in November,” he says. “We go till about 11 or so, but sometimes later because they often don’t want to leave.”

The program emphasizes development, and Hess, who has coached for 45 years on the East Coast and in Hawaii including stints at BYU-Hawaii, Kahuku, AOP, Kalaheo and Kailua Intermediate, loves to share his intimate knowledge of the game he loves so much.

“I get a chance to talk with each of them, and it’s a marvel how much they improve week to week,” he says. “Every once in a while, one of our alumni stops in to play and reminisce about their days growing up in the program.”

Hess supplements his onthe-court teachings with short email lessons. A recent Hess email went like this:

“Dear Future Basketball Standouts, What does a 1,000 jumpshot workout look like? (He has a link to a video). The muscle memory needed for learning and improving a skill is better utilized by increasing the frequency of distribution, not the number of workouts during a period of time. You don’t need to shoot 1,000 shots a day, but you should shoot the ball every day, the more often the better.”

“I’ve been doing that for years,” he says. “Those emails go all over the place. I hear from parents who tell me they love it, and I hear from old players I had from back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.”

Best news yet, the program doesn’t cost a dime.

“There’s no cost,” he says. “I’ve had parents try to give me money, and I give it back. I’ve had people mail me a check, and I’ve mailed it right back. I don’t do this for money – I’m doing this because I love doing this.”

The improvement he sees in his players each bright and beautiful Saturday morning in Kailua is what drives him.

“You watch how they develop; setting picks, blocking out, moving without the ball, seeing the entire court – it’s really a marvel,” he says.

Chic Hess is living in paradise in Kailua, and he knows it. “I live for Saturdays,” he says.