Hoops camp feeding on SK program's recent success

John Callaghan knows success breeds success.

That’s why his South Kitsap Summer Basketball Camp is once again booked full. It seems the kids want to be part of the high school team’s success.

“I think what’s really nice is that a lot of these kids come to our games and they get a chance to see the guys that are playing right now,” said Callaghan, the Wolves head coach, as last week’s camp came to a close. “And then they actually get a chance to work with them at camp, so that’s just a huge bonus for them.”

Getting a chance to play basketball with a team coming off a second-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament may be the main draw but it’s also the recent run of four straight state tournament ap-pearances that has the kids coming in droves.

“I don’t think it hurts that we’ve been successful the last few years,” Callaghan said. “I think the main thing is that it’s fun. We have a good time. I mean, these kids are learning that they can work their butts off and have a good time doing it. It’s not just a free tee-shirt and a free ball.”

Callaghan, who runs the camp with assistant coach Darren Bowden and David Rodriguez, said each day of the five-day camp saw more than 100 campers, by the far the biggest camp yet in their seven years on the job.

“We could take more, but if we do that we’ll definitely have to have a couple more coaches,” Callaghan said. “We could definitely take a few more and we will. We’re not going to turn anyone away. But it starts to lose some of the personal touch when you start getting into the bigger numbers.”

Callaghan does have the help of his varsity players, who act as assistant coaches during the camp, learning and teaching along with the campers.

“They’re working out great, they’re doing a good job,” Callaghan said. “I think it’s as beneficial for them as it is the kids. They get to actually coach and teach the offense and fundamentals, which only re-enforces what they already do and already know. They might not admit it or think it, but they get as much benefit from coaching at the camp as do the campers.”

Shannon Mackie, the ninth grade coach at Marcus Whitman was also on hand to help out.

“Not everyone can make it or be involved in it, but for Shannon to be here is great,” Callaghan said. “He gets to work with some of his guys that are here. That’s a big bonus there and it’s fun for him as well.”

But as with all the camps that South runs, the week was all about fundamentals.

“If there’s been a secret to our success it’s been that we’re pretty fundamentally sound,” Callaghan said. “And I think these guys understand that. The younger guys, they see the TV stuff but they understand that success on the basketball court is being able to do the fundamentals at a high speed. That’s the key.

“That’s what we’re all about,” Callaghan said. “Picking up one or two fundamental skills a day, concentrating on that. But then we also get to play games and hope we incorporate what we’re trying to teach them into these games.”

The campers also got a taste of Callaghan’s offense and terminology.

“Even the terminology, the elbows, the blocks, the baseline, the free-throw line extended, all those terminologies are sinking right in,” Callaghan said. “Hopefully, as things just keep building and they move on up the ladder towards high school ball, we don’t have to go over little things like that. Running our offense, even if they don’t get it too well, just the terminology and knowing what it looks like, is going to help us down the road.

“It’s their turn,” Callaghan said. “Those guys all came to camp, they were all here and they all know it. It’s their turn and one nice thing about our guys is that they understand that responsibility. Most of them do a great job. They’re great role models, for lack of a better word, to our little guys.

“And those little guys develop a relationship with these guys so next year when they come to the games they’ll know each other,” Callaghan said. “And that’s really fun.”

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