Steven Vinias and Maya Trump chat with us about their experiences at Hooked on Hoops.
Manchester Valley girls basketball coach Heather DeWees spoke to a group of Hooked on Hoops campers about the significance of fast transitions on the court. The kids listened intently, watching DeWees work through a mock drill with her camp counselors at the former North Carroll High School building on Thursday.
DeWees referred to popular Division I basketball programs Kentucky and Duke as teams that build success with these quick transitions. She added Century's boys basketball team into the mix, a program that advanced to the Class 2A state final for the first time in school history this season.
"If you have to teach it," DeWees said, "you have to know what you're teaching."
This is DeWees's 11th year hosting Hooked on Hoops, her 23rd year of running basketball camps as a whole. Her morning sessions in Hooked on Hoops center on skill-specific drills, replicating much of what she coaches at Man Valley, and her afternoon sessions are scrimmage-based with team concepts.
Plenty of learning opportunities arise for those who choose to be a part of her camp, DeWees said. It becomes a win-win situation, so to speak, because young kids learn the fundamentals of basketball and older ones grasp a coaching aspect.
"I take a lot of pride in the fact that our older kids get to give back to the community," DeWees said. "I think what's unique about this camp is that it gives kids that attend the opportunity, whether they're in high school or college, to come and give back to their community. A lot of them were campers and I think they're able to turn it around. High school students get volunteer hours and a lot want to be teachers or coaches so this gives them that experience."
A few familiar faces who returned to help DeWees in the gym include current college basketball players Austin Cannon (McDaniel) and Noah Neville (Juniata) and three-time Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year Mackenzie DeWees.
Neville, a North Carroll graduate, was a member of DeWees's camp as a youngster and said he returned to help because he enjoys working with kids.
"This is perfect for me because I want to be a teacher," Neville said. "I want to work with little kids and I think this brings basketball to being fun again because you see them, they're all fun and they're hustling. It makes you love basketball again."
Campers Maya Trump and Steven Vinias, both 10, agreed that they have become better basketball players all around as a result of participating in Hooked on Hoops.
"I'm kind of relieved because they're not just teenagers that just need some money," Steven said. "They actually have practice on this stuff."
"They're really nice and they teach us good stuff," Maya added. "They tell us our mistakes and they don't yell at us."
This year, DeWees said she will hand out a special award at the camp's conclusion in honor of Terry Shindle, a 2012 Man Valley graduate who died in a car accident last August. The Terry Shindle Memorial Award will be given to one counselor and one camper from each camp that each emulates similar qualities Shindle had, DeWees said.
DeWees added she and Shindle's mother Debbie hope to create a scholarship memorial fund to be awarded to a camper and a counselor in Shindle's honor.
"I've met a lot of great counselors here," Neville said. "Austin, really good friends with him, you know, bringing them together. The kids love it and then they want to come back here. It's nice to see when they're little, then they come up when they're counselors and you can just hang out with them and see how they grow."