VERSAILLES – More than 180 girls from nine schools attended the youth basketball camp hosted by the Versailles Lady Tigers, the defending Division III state champs.
The 182 girls, who range from kindergarten through ninth grade, came from Versailles, St. Henry, Russia, New Bremen, Minster Fort Recovery, Fort Loramie, Botkins and Bethel to learn from the Versailles High School girls basketball coaches and players.
The four-day camp was split into two sessions each day with kindergarten through fifth graders attending in the mornings and sixth through ninth graders attending in the afternoons. The girls learned a lot throughout the week, Versailles girls basketball coach Jacki Stonebraker said, but sometimes needed reminders about what to do.
“Some of them forget to dribble when they’re running down the court, which is normal,” she said. “We just keep reminding, you’ve got to dribble. Or if you’re on the left side of the basket, use your left hand versus the right hand. Just little comments here and there, and they just get so excited when you call them out and say, ‘Good job.’”
The camp focused on a lot of fundamentals including passing, dribbling, rebounding and defense. Stonebraker especially stressed footwork and proper shooting form.
“A lot of girls, a lot of boys, kids in general, like to shoot the 3-point shot, but that’s not what we’re all about,” Stonebraker said. “We want to move them in, lower the baskets, get the form right and then let them move out as they get stronger.”
In addition to being a great learning opportunity for the younger girls, the camp also was a chance for the high school players to be leaders, Stonebraker said.
“I think that’s one of the most important things, is for our girls to be here, be role models for the girls, the little ones coming up,” Stonebraker said. “It’s funny, when I’m walking around trying to overhear the girls or talk to them, I can hear them saying the same things that they’re told in practices or in games. And I’m like, they’re getting it; they do hear me; they do understand. It’s good to hear them, and it’s good to see them as leaders and role models.”
Stonebraker was encouraged to see so much enthusiasm for the game of basketball during her camp and hopes by making the camp fun the girls will continue to enjoy the game.
“Let’s keep it going,” Stonebraker said. “This is a great sport to play. Let’s keep it going and keep the excitement.”