Time Out: July 27, 2011

“The great players show how much they want to play during the off-season, when it’s hot, when it’s tough, and when no one is watching.” — Tony Alfonso, author of The Mentally Tough Shooting Workout.

It was hot. It was tough, and there certainly weren’t too many people watching. Last week eight future Margaretville varsity basketball players enjoyed a basketball feast in three days of hardwood madness that saw them play nine games over that time. The basketball bonanza was a team camp held at Houghton College, a gorgeous campus located in western New York.

Lots of hoops
Houghton’s Men’s Basketball Coach Drew Hannan and his staff hosted a basketball extravaganza that included 13 varsity boys’ and 19 varsity girls’ basketball teams. Girls’ and boys’ teams played in single open classes regardless of each school’s enrollment assuring tough competitive challenges for smaller schools.

The basketball was fast and furious and the temperatures sizzled during their stay. The mercury averaged better than 90 degrees demanding a gritty mental toughness as the MCS players plowed through the schedule. Games were officiated by teams of three certified referees as part of an official’s training program. Evaluators worked with the officials helping them hone their skills for the upcoming season. Some officials attended the program as part of training needed to upgrade their status to include referring collegiate games. Five local officials attended the program.
The advantages of a team camp like Houghton are obvious. In a short period of summer time, player’s gain over one-half a season’s game basketball playing experience. Each participant, especially those on teams staying overnight at the college, is immersed in basketball. A ton of high quality basketball is packed into a compact period of time.

The plusses extended beyond the basketball court. Housed on a college campus and eating three meals a day in a college cafeteria with hundreds of kids from around the country (there were many kids on campus attending programs other than the basketball camp) provided the guys a pre-college experience. The kids stayed in the campus dorms and townhouses with plenty of opportunities to socialize with other teens. So much time together builds a team spirit and cohesiveness that is hard to duplicate in other settings.

For me, it was a chance to do something I enjoy, teaching basketball. The old bones did sometimes scream, ‘enough is enough and this is a little much,’ but working with the kids and watching them learn and improve was well worth it. Local coaches wanting to maximize their time with a great team-building activity and one-half a season of basketball team play might want to give a team camp like Houghton’s a try. It’s worth a look.