McDaniel men's basketball team runs first camp of summer

Josh Popielski, of Westminster, reacts during basketball camp at McDaniel College Monday as McDaniel men's basketball coach Kevin Curley looks on.
Josh Popielski, of Westminster, reacts during basketball camp at McDaniel College Monday as McDaniel men's basketball coach Kevin Curley looks on. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

Every summer since Kevin Curley became the McDaniel men's basketball coach in 2007, the Green Terror have hosted a summer camp for kids ages seven to 17.

And Curley said he has seen the number of registered kids grow over that time. Now, there are about 110 participants in each camp.

On Monday, McDaniel began its first camp of the summer at Gill Center, one of three camps being held this year.

"We've got a good group of kids here," Curley said. "Obviously we're in competition with local high school camps, too, and I think we've done pretty well."

The camp, which runs five days this week, is run entirely by the Green Terror coaching staff and McDaniel players. There are stations for different skills, games and competitions, a lecture each day, and lunch provided in the Englar Dining Hall.

Monday's lecture by McDaniel assistant coach Mark McDonald, was on ball handling. McDonald had three Terror rising sophomore guards - Duane Echols, Wesley Brooks and James Bartnik, who is transferring to McDaniel this fall from Howard Community College - demonstrate different ball-handling drills that the kids can practice on their own.

In addition to helping out with the lecture, Echols, who also helped at the camp last year as an incoming freshman, helped kids at the ball-handling station.

"You get a lot of experience being out here, being with Coach Curley during the year, so you might as well come out here over the summer to help some kids get better so they can go to college, too," Echols said.

After the lecture and demonstrations, Echols threw down a few dunks, which he alley-ooped to himself, for the campers.

"It's fun, seems like they know what they're doing," said Ryan Jordan, 14, of Finksburg.

Jordan said his brother participated in the camp before, and he wanted to do it to help him get better so that he can make the junior varsity team at Gerstell Academy this winter.

Noah Bogusti, 13, of Westminster, was another first-timer at the McDaniel camp.

"Good workout, good food," Bogusti said. "It's something to do over the summer, something exciting, fun."

The kids were divided into different "leagues" based on their age. Seven- and 8-year-olds were in the Ivy League, Nine- and 10-year-olds in the Patriot League, 11- and 12-year-olds in the Centennial Conference, and 13-year-olds through 17-year-olds in the NBA.

Monday's activities also included a Knockout competition in each league. Knockout is a game that involves a lot of shooting, which is one reason 10-year-old Josh Popielski, of Westminster, signed up for the camp.

"It's pretty fun actually," Popielski said.

In addition to shooting games and drills, the camp features both 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 tournaments, 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games.

Curley said the kids who benefit the most from the camp are those who can apply the things that the Green Terror coaches and players teach.

"There's some here that are serious into basketball, then they'll take some drills that we teach and work on them when they're not here," Curley said.

And he said he also hopes they become Green Terror fans because of the event.

"That's part of it, too," Curley said. "They know who Duane Echols is. The last couple years we had Phil Perry, and they were all chanting for him to dunk."

For Bartnik, helping out at the camp was a good way for him to meet some of his future Terror teammates. He said he hadn't met any of the guys prior to this, but this was a good way to do it.

"It's a real good bonding experience, I think," Bartnik said. "It's a lot of fun trying to teach them something new and then see them use the skills you taught them."

Echols said the most enjoyable part of the experience is the relationships they get to establish with the kids.

"I love seeing them smile at the end of the day," Echols said. "They're just energetic when they come in and they're tired as dogs when they leave. And that's the best feeling knowing that you gave them a good workout and helped them get better."