PITSBURG – There were 45 boys in grades 3-8 that got the message on Wednesday, the final day of the Franklin-Monroe boys youth basketball camp.
And maybe, just maybe, a few others picked it up as well.
The message was this:
“If you can’t learn and absorb outside of basketball, it’s going to be really difficult to learn and absorb inside of basketball,” F-M boys basketball coach Troy Myers said after the three-day camp ended. “I thought honestly we got a lot accomplished, and not just in a basketball sense but in a core value sense and in just being intentional about what we want to try and teach them.
“Yes, we want to teach them the skills and fundamentals of basketball,” he continued. “But we also want to teach them what our older guys are being taught now so they can start with a foundation in 3rd grade and hear the same language and see the same things in terms of a visible presence of what our values mean. I think over the three days there was a lot of growth in the kids, maybe more so on the values side of things than the basketball side, but I think it all comes together because we’ve told them that your brain is a part of your game.”
The core values are Tough, Unified, Passionate and Servant, and at the end of the camp on Wednesday, Myers and the coaches and high school players handed out awards to the kids they felt represented each core value. The awards were given as follows: Tough – Blake Riffle, Unified – Cason Yount, Passionate – Raves Filbrun, Servant – Grady Myers. There also was an overall Everything Matters award given to Ty Riffle.
“They learned them every day,” Myers said of the core values. “We just didn’t tell them they were learning them. It was all about helping them learn without knowing they had to remember.
“It just puts the emphasis on the identity of your program,” he continued. “Yes, we are here to win, and yes, we are here to make them better players, but we are also here to make them better men and young men, so if you give the awards that are intentional toward your program then that is hopefully what the kids will take from it.”
Myers is entering his seventh season as the Franklin-Monroe boys basketball coach. It was about three years ago, he said, when he and his assistant coaches Martin Maksvytis and Brad Wackler decided to refocus the youth camp to teaching the core values.
“The first couple of years we did the camp differently,” Myers said. “It was about three years ago we just became so convicted about what was on our hearts to do in this program and the platform we had to do it. It wasn’t just me. Coach Martin Maksvytis and Coach Brad Wackler we all decided this is what is on our heart and this is what we going to teach. At the end of the day I think that is what we are accountable for and if we can lay our head down at night and be content with what we taught then I think that is what we are here for.
“It really came about from a combination of things,” he continued. “Studying other programs and I think ultimately you just become convicted about what you believe in yourself. You can’t fake it and try to tell your kids certain things and put posters on the wall. I think this is who we are and who we are striving to be. We’re not perfect but it also helps us grow when we are teaching it. So I think personally we just became convicted enough to doing it this way so we can all learn and grow and get better every day.”
Of course there were several skills stations as well as some fun and games during the three days of camp. There were about 15 current and former players doing that instruction, according to Myers.
“That is very beneficial for the young guys and our high school guys too,” Myers said. “It brings a lot of joy to me too having them here. We spend a lot of our lives investing in them so to see them in a different setting like this and giving back is something we need to see as coaches because they work so stinking hard all the time. It is just nice to see them having some fun and paying it forward by teaching somebody else.”
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.