It can be difficult to balance the teaching aspect of youth camps with keeping kids interested and engaged.
Brunswick High’s girls basketball program appeared to have found the perfect combination Monday.
Day 1 of the Pirate girls’ camp saw head coach Maria Mangram, with help from some of her players and staff, drill campers on the fine details of the game — that is, after an icebreaker that resulted in new nicknames for the group.
“Coach (Jasmine) Hubbard did an icebreaker, and so they had to have an adjective to describe themselves,” Mangram said with a laugh. “So we put everybody in a circle, and we went around the circle, and everybody had to repeat it.
“It was fun. It was one way for us to all remember everybody’s names. That was the first icebreaker, so everybody’s adjectives, that’s what you’ve been hearing. It was “Killa” Keya, then we had “Athletic” Ava and we had “Amazing” Ashia. It was really a neat way to remember everybody’s names.”
Ten-year-old “Jam” Jordyn Rollins decided on a monkier that reflected the confidence he has in a future that will see him rocking rims one day.
For now, Rollins plays for the Glynn County Georgia Stars AAU team, and after a few camp sessions, he’ll return to his squad with an increased defensive presence fortified during his favorite part of the day. Late in the session, campers went through defensive drills designed to teach them how to drop and make quick rotations when playing zone.
It was in the defensive drills that 9-year-old twins Ava and Ashia Mountain showed their skills. AAU players as well, the locked-in sisters flew around inside the arc to deter drives and steal away any ball that bounced free.
“It was fun today at camp, and I like it,” Ashia said.
In addition to the improvements defensively, the campers will walk away from the training with a new bag of tricks when the ball is in their hands.
“It was another (drill) that had dribble moves,” Rollins said. “It was awesome and cool.”
Ashia also noted that she learned how to dribble well with her right hand.
After opening the camp with agility work and stretching led by the Pirates’ strength and conditioning coach Hubbard, fundamental work at every level was the focus for much of the day.
“We went into ball handling, and after ball handling, we to passing, then we also did layups, on the correct way shooting a right-hand layup on the right side, with your right leg extended,” Mangram said. “Left, same thing, left side, left hand, left leg extended. Then we shot free throws and we kind of worked on the technique of lining them up correctly.”
Even those who are around the game often learned something new at camp.
Damare Mangram, the 8-year-old son of the head coach, said his favorite part of the experience is getting to meet new friends, but he also picked up a firmer grasp of the rule book.
“I learned that two players on the same team are both holding one ball, and they move at the same time, it’s called a travel,” he said.
After a quick lunch break, the campers got the chance to put their newfound skills to work in a few games before wrapping up for the day.
There will be another set of challenges and drills for the players to run through today on the final day of the camp, but the learning curve should only get smaller from here.
“Everything should be even easier this time,” Ava said.