Sports

Learning skills, building the future

Left to right, Emilie  Reninger,  Vanessa  Herrick,  Elizabeth Adkins and Katie Keil practice a “jump stop, turn and protect the ball” drill Wednesday morning at Oak Harbor High School’s youth basketball camp.  - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Left to right, Emilie Reninger, Vanessa Herrick, Elizabeth Adkins and Katie Keil practice a “jump stop, turn and protect the ball” drill Wednesday morning at Oak Harbor High School’s youth basketball camp.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

Summer sports camps are always fun to attend and camp coordinators make sure there is no pressure to perform put on any of the participants.

In addition to having a good time, camp attendees learn basic skills they can use to improve their game and build a base to advance to the next level of competition.

This is particularly true in basketball.

On Monday, Aug. 28, and continuing through Thursday, Aug. 31, Oak Harbor High School head girls basketball coach Brett McLeod, his staff and some of the Wildcat varsity players conducted a basketball skills camp for younger players.

The camp ran from 9 a.m. to noon each day and any young woman who chose to crawl out of bed early in the morning during summer vacation, don practice gear and head to the high school to work out, has a definite interest in playing basketball.

“We have 16 campers in this class which is kind of a low turnout, but this is a fun group to work with,” McLeod said. “In addition, 10 of my high school players have been helping out on various days.”

Campers ranged in age, size and ability from first-graders through middle-schoolers and the majority of them agreed that working on their shooting was the most important thing they learned.

Kacie Keil and Monica Vidoni, both age 11 and both first-time participants in the Oak Harbor camp, when asked about what they’d learned, both echoed, “Shooting.”

“We met a lot of really nice people, too,” Keil added.

Ten-year-old Mariel Empinato, one of the veterans even at a young age, said she comes here every year for basketball.

“I have fun and I learn more every year,” she said.

Another camp veteran is 10-year-old Taylor Heidt, who said she has been coming to Oak Harbor’s camp for five years.

“I meet a lot of new people every time, it’s fun,” she said.

McLeod said he will be inviting some of this year’s campers to try out for the select team in September.

“This year, we will be combining the boys and girls select teams under the same organization for the first time,” he said. “In past years they have been two separate groups, but we figured we could be more coordinated if we worked things together.”

McLeod said the first through fifth-graders have really improved since the first day of camp.

“Hopefully, all the girls now have a base to work with on their own when the camp is over,” he said.

One thing is certain, to build a winning sports program you have to start with young players and develop their skills as they grow and mature.

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