The seventh annual Salt River Community Basketball Camp was held July 25-29 at Salt River High School for boys and girls ages 8-18. The camp offered individual and group guidance to improve basketball skills. Each camper received a T-shirt and a basketball. The special clinics included passing, dribbling, shooting, defense and rebounding. The camp was divided into three sessions, for elementary, junior high and high school.
The elementary camp drew between 25 and 30 kids each day, who learned basic basketball skills such as shooting, passing, dribbling, and hand and foot coordination.
“First they [the participants] were kind of not really into it and scared; they didn’t know what to do. But when they got comfortable, they just wanted to have fun and try everything,” said basketball camp instructor Felix Muniz about the participants in the 8-12 age division. “We taught them how to listen when the whistle blows, how hustle to get to where they are supposed to be on time, and all the basics of basketball.”
“I learned back passing and dribbling. I love playing [basketball], ever since I was five,” said Mieve Kochampanasken, 9, about what she learned how to do at basketball camp.
Eleven-year-old Tolliver Bryant said this was his first year taking part in the camp. He decided to try it out after his friends encouraged him.
“I have learned a lot out here, especially shooting,” he said. “I used to shoot the ball the wrong way, and the camp shows us how to use correct form.”
Twelve-year-old Camillia Begay said she took part in the camp last year and decided to come back because she knew it would be better and she remembered how much she learned the year before.
“I play club ball and recreation basketball all the time, but this really helps too,” she said. “I got better at dribbling and looking up while I dribble, and also corrected my shooting form.”
Begay participated in break-out sessions with the more advanced players and said everyone can learn, even if it is their first time playing.
“The camp really teaches you a lot, and everyone gets better,” she said.
Even at 8 years old, Adrian Cordova said he really enjoys the camp. Participating in his second camp has been “a lot of fun” because he really likes the drills and believes he is getting better every time he attends.
Jerica Perez came to camp having never played organized basketball, although she does play softball. Perez said she became bored sitting at home and decided to join the basketball camp.
“It is kind of hard to do everything for basketball, and it is really tiring,” she said. “I always go home and just sleep because my body is so tired.” Perez said the camp has inspired her to want to join a basketball team.
During the last day of the basketball camp, July 29, youth in the elementary session played each other in mini-games throughout the morning and showed parents what they had learned so far that week. Many of the children took in all they learned by trying to reach the baskets or even making three-point shots.
Parents held their camera phones out as they watched their little children play the competitive team spot.
Every year the Community hosts the weeklong camp right before school begins to give young players a taste of the sport and the option to give basketball a try, or even join a team at school or in a youth league in the Community.