SK’s Callaghan aims to keep the ‘fun’ in fundamentals

One of the perks to being a school teacher is the summers off.

That’s not always the case for coaches like John Callaghan.

Callaghan wasn’t spotted out on a lake somewhere soaking in the sunshine last week. Instead, the varsity basketball coach for South Kitsap High School was busy running his annual basketball camps at SK gym.

More than 100 campers participated in fundamental drills, scrimmages, and competitions. Callaghan said he came away impressed with the skills the junior high kids honed.

“There are some players here,” Callaghan said. “All of them have skills. But a week of camp is going to make it better and they’ll learn some things.”

While Callaghan stressed the fundamentals, he said it was important to hold competitions such as one-on-one and free throw shooting.

It’s the mental toughness that Callaghan said he is seeking.

He also had many scrimmages because it’s playing that makes the players better.

“Everybody’s got different things going on during the summer, but there are some guys who are playing AAU and summer league,” Callaghan said. “They’re going out and seeking the best competition they can get because they know that’s going to make them better. They want to get battle tested.”

At the end of the camp, Callaghan had what he calls the most important pep talk of the summer.

Besides complimenting them on a good week, Callaghan threw out some realism.

“How many varsity spots do we have at South?,” he asked the kids. “Twelve. We have 12 spots. The competition will be fierce.”

Callaghan said it’s not a scare tactic.

If anything, it acts as a motivator for them to try and be the best basketball players they can be.

Callaghan said the only advice he can give to all the players is to do well in school and keep playing.

The camp is there to instill the necessary skills but, “They need to take those things and keep playing,” Callaghan said. “Like I said, the competition is huge. The guys are here at camp because they want to play for South Kitsap and that’s cool.”

Callaghan said he is amazed at how advanced the junior high players are.

“Their skills are just, ‘wow,’ ” he said. “They’re pretty advanced.”

While the talk is there about the future of varsity, Callaghan said the most important aspect of the camp is for the kids to have fun.

“It’s gotta be fun,” he said. “What good is a camp if it’s not fun?”

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