Both the girls and boys high school basketball programs wrapped up another successful summer camp last week with well over 60 participants in all. Campers ranged from incoming freshmen all the way down to Kindergarten and first graders. Coach Austin Atwood worked with the boys in the high school gym while Coach Todd Whittemore worked simultaneously with the girls at the middle school and both seemed impressed with the talent turning out this summer.
I saw a lot of the incoming seventh graders, Atwood said. But even the fifth and sixth graders had a pretty good class. Thats about when you can really start telling, although we had some five and six year olds that could dribble and do other things.
Although each coach takes his own approach to their respective programs, the major concept is to teach drills and exercises that focus on fundamental elements of the game while also working on fine-tuning individual skills in real time game scenarios. In this way participants leave the camp with valuable practice tools that they will likely see again when they get the opportunity to play at the high school level and also develop a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Yet, as Coach Whittemore pointed out, the camp isnt just about working toward becoming a better basketball player, its also about having fun. I think its a fun camp, Whittemore said. We do make it fun. Its not the military. Its summer time and we want to make it fun for everybody. Some stuff will have them drill with kids their same age but during our relay races and our five on five each team has a representative of those age groups. Its a way for our younger girls to be able to start to mesh and interact with the older girls. We really think we do a good job not just for the older girls but the younger too. All our players come in and work the camp. Spend time with them. They are line leaders, theyre captains, and theyre coaches. They do it all. Its a great opportunity for the younger girls to be able to work with and get some tips and hints from these varsity girls.
Coach Whittemore noted players from each team also worked as coaches, giving the campers a chance to get to know the very same athletes they cheer on during the regular season. Yet as much benefit as the younger kids get out of meeting their varsity and JV counterparts, the players also gain the valuable experience of helping and teaching the next generation.
Like Ive said in the past, it helps my high school players as much as it helps the younger ones, commented Coach Atwood. They get to know the players, the program and its good for them to get to interact with them. I have a lot of repeat campers, kids who come every year, which is kind of what we want. Of course we want new ones too.
There were several repeat campers on the girls side as well, and an unusual number of incoming freshmen and middle school aged players. Highlighting another key benefit of the camp, Whittemore took this as an opportunity to preview some of the talent coming into the program in the hopes of building a more consistent and successful team in the future.
I get a great feel for some of the up and coming players, Whittemore said. There are other players out there that arent getting this opportunity, and we have to search harder for them, but it does say something about these girls that they are giving up their summer break time to come in and come to camp when they could be sleeping in. Weve got a really strong rising seventh grade class. They have been coming to camp. This is their third year. There is a group of about seven or eight of them and Ive been able to keep an eye on them. Its nice to see that Ill be able to work with them again and help them progress. Before you know it theyll be up at the high school. We take rising freshmen and get some of them to come to team camps with us. You have to come to camp if you want to be able to practice with the varsity. We dont just want to play close. We want to win.