A Basque in Boise

Boise’s Pilota School project underway

The coach’s visit didn’t start in the best possible way (Iñigo had been waiting at the airport for an hour before I showed up), but in my defense, he’d sent me the wrong itinerary. Luckily, he hadn’t slept but one hour in the previous two days, so he swears he didn’t even notice the extra one. We had coffee, dinner, and by 10 pm I dropped him off at the place where he’s staying for the next two weeks.

Iñigo didn’t waste any time and the next day he was at Boise’s fronton, bright and early, training the girls who play paleta goma, two of which (Esther Ciganda and Ysabel Bilbao) will participate in the Fronton & Trinquet tournament that will take place in Bilbao during the month of December. Saturday’s training session was also attended by veteran goma player Ana Maria Mansisidor and Geneva Ayarra, who after playing baleen for the last few seasons has decided to give goma a try. Sunday was also dedicated to training these girls.

Monday was a slower day for Iñigo. He was scheduled to talk to Boise’s future pilota coaches that evening about the history of pilota and training techniques, so he took advantage of a morning alone to finalize his presentation, which started at 6 pm and lasted for about two hours. There were seven people in attendance: Sam Snodgrass, Esther Ciganda, Ysabel Bilbao, Ana Maria Mansisidor, Geneva Ayarra, Miren Maguregui, and I. (Don’t worry, I am not going to be one of the coaches, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to listen to a pilota pro.) He gave an overview on the origins of the sport: where and when it got started and how it’s evolved into the sport we know today. He dedicated the second part of the talk to teaching the audience about technique, training exercises, and the best practices to run a successful pilota school.

The presentation ended with a 20 minute planning session for Iñigo’s week: English lessons in the mornings and more training in the evenings.

Last night he held a practice session at the fronton for kids between 7 and 14 years old, from 6 to 8. The turnout was perfect for the size of our fronton, and Iñigo didn’t waste one minute to put the kids to work. They started with some fun exercises to warm up (it looked to me like a variation of “tag”), followed by a game involving balloons. Afterwards, the goma girls got another chance to keep working on their moves.

Today he will meet with the baleen girl players to go over technique and do some training, and tomorrow he will do the same with the goma men players.

Friday he will train the goma players once again, and by then I’m pretty sure he will be ready for some kalimotxos as the Basque Center. We got that covered!



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