For SK hoop campers, it’s all fundamental

Glow-in-the-dark basketballs might seem a bit out of place in the sweltering hot South Kitsap basketball gym, but for Mike Allen they’re just part of the process.

“Hopefully, what we get accomplished is teaching fundamentals,” said Allen, South’s head girls basketball coach, during a break last week at his summer camp. “That’s probably the biggest thing that’s lacking with our younger kids is just real fundamental stuff.”

Teaching the basics was the plan last week as Allen had two groups of girls in for a four-day basketball clinic at the high school. The camp was open to girls in grades fourth through sixth and a second group with girls in junior high.

“We don’t really work on a lot of extended skills,” Allen said. “It’s just real basic skills that help them be better basketball players. What we’ve seen in the past is that the kids playing at the varsity level have all gone to this camp, and the kids playing in the junior highs most of them have gone to this camp. And when we go to games, we get pretty excited when we see the fundamentals are there for the kids that have gone to the camp. Some of the others ones are athletic but maybe don’t have the fundamental skills.”

That’s where the glowing basketballs come in, as well as many other teaching techniques. But getting to spend quality time with each of the campers was key as well.

“There’s a lot of one-on-one, most of the varsity players are here so we have two kids basically for every coach,” Allen said. “So we can really spend some time working individually with each kid.”

Many of Allen’s varsity players were on hand to help with the camp, including Morgan Wiggin, Megan Gilbert, Sierra Vinson and Schelsey Zimmerman.

“They’re here teaching,” Allen said. “And our goal is that at some point during the week, we teach the skill and then we send them to the kids and then they teach the kids individually. They get a chance to give back a little bit.

“It’s fun. It’s fun for them,” Allen said. “It’s good for them to teach those skills and they really understand what they’re doing.”

It’s also a chance for the returning players to step up and take a leadership role that will extend into next winter’s season.

“It’s kind of fun to get them moved up,” Allen said. “Some of these kids that are in the camp, when they are varsity players, they’ll be coming back and teaching some of the same stuff.”

Allen, who has coached at South for five years and was running his fourth camp, said while learning was key, having fun was the bottom line.

“They love it. I think they really enjoy it,” Allen said. “They could care less if I was here but they’re excited to see the varsity girls. It’s fun to have them see them and it’s cool then during the season when they come to games and stuff I know their faces and recognize them and we can talk.”

Although the numbers were down this year, Allen said he likes what he’s seen out of his campers over the years.

“Most of them are repeaters,” Allen said. “They come back a second time or a third time and that’s our goal. If we keep growing, at some time we’d like to split this camp, maybe into three camps and have an advanced skills or something like that. That’s what we’d like to see happen down the road.”

Allen and his staff will continue working with his varsity players until the beginning of August, and many of the younger girls have been invited to join some of the practices.

The varsity girls will also play in a selected tournaments and games throughout the summer.

“I think it’s a great experience,” Allen said. “I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from parents and stuff.

“It’s a labor of love and we want to teach kids, that’s why we’re here,” Allen said. “It’s because we love the game and that’s it.”

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