An engaging experience

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Learning and competitive opportunities were abundant at the 2017 Jayson Gee Basketball Camp with 35 boys and girls ages 5-16 taking to Jerome Kersey Court in Willett Hall at Longwood University from Monday through Thursday last week.

Lancers Head Coach Jayson Gee, his staff and his players led the event, which offered instruction on all facets of the game of basketball as well as life lessons.

“I thought it was super,” Gee said of the camp this year. “And I thought we had a great group of young kids that really were committed to having … a great time, and I thought our players did an outstanding job, and I was so impressed to see how many of them signed autographs, which lets me know that they engaged the kids.”

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The dynamic was a bit different from the 2016 camp as the YMCA did not have a contingent of campers on hand this year, but the lower number of total campers led to other opportunities.

“Everything’s predicated on student-teacher ratio,” Gee said. “I thought these kids got a lot of engagement, a lot of encouragement, a lot of one-on-one attention, and I think that was a positive. So sometimes you can have blessing in disguises.”

Da’Mya Harris, a rising junior at Prince Edward County High School, said she thought the camp went great.

“We had a lot of extra chances to learn about defense and offense, a lot of extra help and new people,” she said.

Central Lunenburg High School rising freshman Tyler McGrath was also pleased with how things went.

“The camp was actually more fun than last year,” he said. “Even though there was less people, there was more competition.”

The complete experience, which included skill drills, team-building and five-on-five games, gave veteran campers like Harris learning opportunities.

“I learned how to get better with my left hand and how to make new friends, because I’m not very talkative,” Harris said.

Parents enjoyed the broad benefits the camp afforded their children, including Carla Jones, whose 9-year-old son Malik Jones was back for the third year.

“For Malik, it will give him a chance to do what he needs to do in order to get to college,” she said.

Harris likely expressed the thoughts of many campers when she said that her favorite thing about attending each year is getting “to hang out with the Longwood people for a week, to play ball for a week.”

Lancers Assistant Coach Cody Anderson, who helped organize the camp, said, “One of the best things we have at Longwood is our players, and so letting the community interact with those guys and then those guys giving back to the community that supports them so much, I think, is huge.”

Longwood redshirt freshman point guard Juan Munoz said he enjoyed seeing the campers play their hearts out, and he found the instructional process rewarding.

“Getting to teach them the fundamentals of the game is just awesome just because they know that they’re learning from you,” he said. “So, that’s the best part about it to me.”