PITSBURG – Forty-five boys in the third through eighth grades attended Franklin Monroe’s youth boys basketball camp last week.
“It was awesome, man,” Franklin Monroe boys basketball coach Troy Myers said. “I just think that we created a unique environment. You see all the help that was here from alumni to support staff to our players so I think we created a unique environment for the kids in that they weren’t listening to just coaches the entire time. They want to be here and they want to have fun, and the best way to do that is to put the high school kids and the alumni, the guys that are going to play in college, in front of them.”
Myers was joined by his assistant coaches, current high school players and Franklin Monroe alumni in leading the three-day camp. Athletes from Northmont who are friends of FM graduate Kam Thurmond also helped out during the camp.
“You can see their stature, they’re a little bit bigger, they can dunk,” Myers said of the Northmont players helping with the camp at Franklin Monroe, “the kids love it so it just creates a really fun environment for the little kids. They want to see dunking. Not too many of our kids can get above the rim so that’s what they want to see, and they got it.”
The first two days of camp focused on fundamental stations then the final day was all about competition.
“You just have fun,” Myers said. “You do competitions, you let the guys dunk, you let them play two-on-two, but if it’s not fun these guys aren’t coming back. And that’s how you build a program. Obviously it’s the lifeline of the program is your youth.”
In addition to being beneficial for the youth and the future of the program, Myers said, the camp was a positive experience for the current high school players.
“I think the regenerative teaching from these guys to those guys helped our high school program because they taught the stuff that they’re being taught,” he said. “I love this camp because I love getting the younger kids with our high school kids and having our high school kids teach. They don’t get to do that too often so it really is a productive thing.”
Along with teaching the boys about basketball, Myers and his staff also stressed life lessons throughout the three days of camp.
“I think the main thing they got out of it was not only the fundamental skill but the foundation of our program, the core values,” Myers said. “That is the foundation of who we are. We talked about it every day.
“As those kids grow up in our program they’re already going to have the foundation of the core values and understand how important it is for us when we compete on Friday and Saturday night.”
Even the boys who don’t grow up to be high school basketball players left with ideas they’ll be able to use throughout their lives, Myers said.
“I guess that’s what I’m accountable for at the end of the day,” he said. “Yes, I’m the basketball coach, and, yes, we have to win games. But at the end of the day I’m accountable for what I’ve done with the platform I’ve been given, and if that’s what I can give to a kid that doesn’t play basketball the rest of his life I’m good with that.”
One of the lessons Myers stressed throughout the week was listening.
“We did a listening drill on Monday; it was a respect thing, how you show respect to people – you listen with your eyes,” Myers said. “We did a drill on Monday and like all of them went out right away. Today we did the very same thing, and it took me a while to get them out. It took me a while to whittle them down because they got it, they were listening, they were attentive, they were sharper in just three days.”
Myers was able to make a lot of strides with the camp because of his support staff, he said. Alumni Devon Eley and Martin Maksvytis organized much of the camp, leaving Myers free to focus on coaching.
“Martin and Devon actually did a tremendous job,” Myers said. “They really set a lot of the camp up; they ran a lot of the stuff. I was the voice, but they ran a lot of it. They got stuff that we needed; they got the T-shirts. So behind the scenes stuff it takes a lot of work, and they did that, and so it made my life easy.”