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Valuable hardwood homework

Fuqua School hosted another year of its Shoot 2 Score coed basketball camp last week with 23 campers participating, ranging from rising fourth-graders to rising ninth-graders.

“We had a good mixture of really young kids and some kids that were returning from last year’s camp,” Fuqua Athletic Director Charles Thomas said. “It was a good week. The kids worked really hard during the week in the stations and the skill development stuff that we gave them each morning.”

The camp ran Monday-Thursday at Gilmer Gymnasium, with daily sessions running 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Thomas noted that he hopes the event was simply the start of continuing development for the campers.

“We just explained to them, ‘You can’t make somebody a great basketball player in four days,’” he said. “‘You learn stuff, and then you’ve got to take it home, and you’ve got to work on it. You’ve got to put it into use.’”

Each morning, campers were put through different stations that focused on specific aspects of basketball. One aspect included ball handling, and participants developed greater hand quickness, worked on dribbling with both hands and developed a better feel for the ball.

It was fitting that campers also worked on passing with both hands and passing on the move and shooting layups with either hand.

Thomas said participants were drilled on scoring around the basket without bringing the ball down.

He said they were given the opportunity to refine their shooting form, with attention given to basketball, elbow and toe alignment, good rotation of the ball during the shot and good follow through.

Campers were taught about getting into their jump shot with the proper footwork.

The camp featured shooting games, and after lunch was a gradual build-up to five-on-five games, preceded by one-on-one and two-on-two contests.

Thomas said the games with fewer players aided campers’ understanding in how to play, highlighting spacing and cutting.

“So, we don’t just go right into playing (five-on-five) without explaining how to play,” he said.

To give campers a brief fun opportunity off the court, the camp moved to the Fuqua swimming pool for an hour one day, Thomas said.

Manning different stations and helping Thomas run the camp were several Fuqua varsity boys basketball players.

“That’s part of the process that I think is real important, that they’re working with young kids too and giving back a little bit of what they’ve learned, “ said Thomas, who is also Fuqua’s head varsity boys basketball coach. “And I think the young kids kind of look up to them. So, it’s a very valuable tool for our program, I think.”

Among the Falcons lending a hand and their time were Warren Dabney, Kevin Dunn, Michael “Chipper” Ford, Clay Osborn, Jalen Patteson, Tyler Thomas and Ethan Watson.

Coach Thomas said he looks forward to working with campers every year “because the young kids are the future, you know what I mean?”

He said he tries to give them tools they can use “so hopefully if they come out for a team here, it helps them, or if they’re at another county and they go out for their team, it helps them be more valuable to their team.”

For some campers, this year was merely a continuation of the learning experience that started at a previous edition of the camp.

“That, to me, is the rewarding part of it, when you see kids that come back, and you see the light bulb goes off, and they’re really starting to pick up on those things and really starting to improve,” Thomas said.

Overall attendance was a bit down this year, as Thomas estimated 37 participated last year, but he noted there are ebbs and flows.

“Some years people go on vacation during that week or have different things going on,” he said.

Campers this year came from Prince Edward, Amelia and Cumberland counties.

Thinking ahead to next year’s edition of the event, Thomas noted he would like to see more participation from young people in the community, particularly non-Fuqua students who live in Farmville.

“We’re always looking for more kids in the community,” he said. “We want it to be a camp for the entire community.”

A few awards were handed out this year to recognize standout campers.

Grant Amiss was named Most Outstanding Camper, Brooke Coleman was named Most Improved Camper and Braxton McClure won the shooting competition to become Hot Shot Champion.