Tom Marumoto wasn’t sure how he ended up at Montezuma-Cortez High School last week.
But there he was, standing at center court, addressing a group of area kids that had come to learn how to improve their shooting stroke.
The 79-year-old Newport Beach, California resident has been involved in coaching for the last 61 years and has run his own basketball academy for the past 38. He estimated that he’s put on over 100 clinics in the past 30 years, with most taking place in California or Hawaii.
But he’d never even been to Cortez, and he wasn’t sure how anyone from Cortez had ever heard of him.
“They called me out of the clear blue sky, don’t ask me for a resume and say ‘we want to hire you,’” Marumoto said incredulously. “And that’s how it started, but I have no idea how they picked me.”
Todd Plewe had actually heard of Marumoto years ago when he was growing up in California, and after speaking with local coaches and determining that shooting was one of the areas in which they hoped players to improve, he got the ball rolling.
Plewe and The Montezuma Storm basketball club reached out to Marumoto and used the proceeds from their tournament to bring the shooting coach to Cortez. And for three days last week, the marksman worked with over 50 youths in grades 5-12 on the fundamentals of shooting.
Marumoto stressed balance, form, follow-through and other minute details that go into performing a great jump shot. But he also spoke of life skills and the importance of characteristics on and off the court that make up what he called his formula for success.
“The most important value is dependability,” he explained. “And then I go commitment, teamwork, hard work, determination, all that stuff, and that’s number one. The other success formula is that they have to want to learn, so I always ask them, ‘Why do you have two eyes and two ears and one mouth?’ And the last one is the hardest: There is no substitution for hard work.”
Marumoto said that his first coaching experience came as a volunteer at a basketball camp his freshman year of college, but that he’s been hooked since, staying associated with coaching in some form for the last 61 years.
He later pointed to his knee brace and listed off a handful of minor injuries that have slowed him over the years, before making it clear that he has no plans to stop coaching anytime soon.
“I will always coach until my passion dwindles,” he said. “The day that passion dwindles, I’m gone, I’ll quit. I’m 79 and I really want to coach until I’m 90. I don’t know if I can, but I was up at five o’clock preparing for this. I have a great passion for this and I’m hoping it will rub off on the kids.”