VERSAILLES — A record number of girls from Versailles and beyond attended Versailles’ youth girls basketball camp this week.
A total of 168 girls, including 71 in the first through fifth grades and 97 in the sixth through ninth grades, attended the annual camp, which is run by the Versailles high school girls basketball team.
“It was fun,” Versailles varsity girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “It was a lot of planning. It was a lot of extra making sure we had things ready to go for them.”
With the Versailles varsity girls basketball team making the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state final last season, enthusiasm for the Lady Tiger program is high, helping fuel interest in the youth camp.
“Success breeds success a lot of times,” Stonebraker said. “And I think seeing that, a lot of little girls look up to the older high school girls. It just helps make our camp successful and creates a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the program.”
Along with the Versailles girls, campers also came from Bethel, Botkins, Fort Loramie, Minster, New Bremen, Russia and St. Henry.
“There were a lot of girls from different schools, and so I thought it was neat that the girls could mingle with other schools and get to know some other kids from different schools,” Stonebraker said.
The campers were split into two groups based on age with the younger session in the morning and the older session in the afternoon. Both sessions lasted three hours a day from Monday through Thursday.
In addition to the Versailles coaching staff, 22 Lady Tiger high school players helped coach and referee throughout the week.
“They’re always in here and being visible and talking to the girls, and that helps, too … role models,” Stonebraker said.
The camp focused on basketball skills such as on-ball screening, defense, shooting, footwork, passing and dribbling. Contests including hot shot, free throws, dribbling, three-on-three games and five-on-five games were utilized to help in the instruction.
“We do a lot of drills, especially for the older girls, that we do on the high school floor to get them used to those drills so it’s not the first time they see them when they walk on our court in November,” Stonebraker said.
While many of the older girls are entering the high school and junior high programs and were able to learn the same drills the varsity program uses, the younger ones were getting a basic introduction to the game.
“It’s a little difficult with the younger ages,” Stonebraker said. “Hopefully they pick up a couple things, and you create that enthusiasm for them. And the older division, I think we were able to teach them some things that they didn’t quite know or weren’t quite ready for as they entered junior high.”
With the camp, Stonebraker hopes the girls left with a greater knowledge of basketball and an enthusiasm for playing the game.
“I hope they had fun first off all,” Stonebraker said. “I hope they learned something about basketball whether it be you have to stand out of bounds to pass the ball in or if they learned a new move they can work on the rest of the summer. I hope they met somebody new that they can call a friend or an acquaintance of some kind.”