Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

Practice team prepares Mercury for action

Aguirre awaits instructions from Coach Gaines during Mercury practice.

From lifeguarding to cleaning up after movie theaters, individuals are constantly on the lookout for summer jobs. However, the Phoenix Mercury offers a fun opportunity for male basketball players to play side by side with the girls.

“I had heard about the practice squad since I work for the Phoenix Suns,” Phoenix Suns Marketing Partnerships Activation Specialist Jorge Aguirre said. “I was interested in trying it out.”

Aguirre has been playing basketball for over 20 years, starting when he was young, and continuing on through high school and college.

“I like the competition and quickness of the game,” Aguirre said.

The try-out process to become a member of the boys practice team was extremely rigorous, as the Mercury Coach is only looking for the best to work with his girls. Aguirre proved himself through his defensive work, sprints and a number of other skills.

“I look for boys who follow instructions, pick up plays well and have a nice demeanor,” Phoenix Mercury Coach Corey Gaines.

The practice squad works extremely hard to keep up with Mercury; the boys hold a lot of respect for the women they work with.

“The boys are really supportive and I’m really thankful for that,” Forward for the Phoenix Mercury Charde Houston said.

Working on shooting skills, Aguirre walks toward other squad members and Coach Gaines to give assistance.

Through his connections with the Phoenix Suns, Aguirre knew professional basketball was a demanding sport, however he was surprised with the fast paced environment found on the Mercury court.

“There are a lot of stereotypes about women basketball players,” Aguirre said. “But they (the Mercury) have tough practices.”

Aguirre, along with the rest of the practice squad, gives the Mercury the chance to practice their plays and communication skills with the pressures of real game action added in the mix.

“It’s nice being able to compete with people other than each other,” Houston said.

Even in his free time away from the game, Aguirre involves himself in a variety of athletic activities.

“I’m pretty active,” Aguirre said. “I enjoy running, lifting and anything outdoors.”

Basketball has been a huge part of Aguirre’s life, and he has no intention of ending his involvement anytime soon.

“I’ll definitely keep playing, probably till my knees fall off,” Aguirre said.

By Nathan Kolker and Rebecca Smouse

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