Basketball: 'No fear of making mistakes' in Georgiana's annual summer camp

The only basketball experience Grace Runkles had prior to joining Jerry Georgiana’s summer basketball camp was casually shooting at her neighbor’s basketball hoop.

Grace, a rising seventh-grader at East Middle School, took turns shooting during a brief pause in the summer camp’s daily activities at West Middle School on Thursday. She repeated the motions, one after the other, and continued to do so until she scored baskets.


The camp, known as Mr. Jerry’s Summer Basketball Camp, has been helping Grace and others build up their skills, she said. Georgiana has taken notice.

“We’ve had, in the last several years, kids that had never done it before and they just want to do a camp,” Georgiana said. “They always come back and play in the league. The confidence after five days of camp is overwhelming because when [Grace] first started she couldn’t hit the rim and after the third day, she’s making more shots and her demeanor changed overnight because of the confidence.

“My helpers encourage so much, so there’s no fear of making mistakes. She just kept on rolling. No matter how poor she played she just kept on going. She’s not shy, she’s not scared.”

Georgiana, a recent inductee into the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame, founded Westminster Girls Basketball in 1990 and started his own camp in 2004. The Westminster Girls Basketball organization has seven divisions from kindergarten through high school travel, and has expanded to nearly 50 teams with 500-600 players.

The camp teaches its participants, ranging from as young as kindergarten to 10th grade, basketball technique while building character along the way.

“It doesn’t matter what age or what skill level [you are] because the last few years, I’ve been so focused on character and how you represent yourself during practice and how it transfers to your life and how you respect a coach when he’s talking,” Georgiana said.

To begin the day, campers run through a series of “sweep and rake” drills to get loose. Grace demonstrated how players are inclined to keep both feet on the base line and hold the basketball knee-length before bringing it down in a sweeping motion below the knee and back up to chest-length.

Players then swivel to bring one elbow up over the knee with the ball in their hands and back to the chest in the “rake” motion.

The kids are split into groups for different stations that focus on multiple fundamentals of the game and they each get a chance to practice until the skill is mastered. Georgiana said dialing in on the basics rather than putting the girls though a game-like setting helps them prepare for when they do play outside of camp.

“We really don’t play many games in this camp,” Georgiana said. “Others play a lot more and if I see something wrong I like to fix it then. We might go back to the same girl earlier that week just so they know exactly what do to and how to do it. We watch them in-house and you see the confidence build because they do certain things we focus on.”

If there’s anything Georgiana said he hopes young female athletes can take away from his camp, it’s that they become leaders and build a positive character for the rest of their lives.

Grace is pleased with how much she’s learned, so far.

“My favorite thing about it is learning everything because I’ve never really known how to properly have the form until I went to this camp,” she said. “I now know what form I should be doing and I can practice that now that I know it.”