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Hardwood dreams coming true

AT THE Jumpstart Basketball Camp, children make friends all in the name of fun while learning hoops skills. For the 21st season, the camp has grown to its highest level ever with resounding success.              Contributed photo

AT THE Jumpstart Basketball Camp, children make friends all in the name of fun while learning hoops skills. For the 21st season, the camp has grown to its highest level ever with resounding success. Contributed photo

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BOYS AND GIRLS from the second-through-ninth grades listen to instructions from volunteer coaches Zach Nerdin and Ellis Rager in layup drills for the Jumpstart Basketball Camp Thursday in Dufur.

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YOUTH ATHLETES and coaches from the Jumpstart Basketball Camp take time out from their practice session for a group shot early in the day Thursday at Dufur High School. More than 150 athletes from across the gorge took part in this fundamentals event used to enhance youth hoops in the future.

Friday afternoon wrapped up a successful week of hoops practices and scrimmage sessions at the 21st annual Jumpstart Basketball Camp held at Dufur High School.

Headlined by coordinator Tom Conklin and several local coaches from across the gorge, more than 150 athletes from 18 different schools were on hand to soak in those years of knowledge as the foundation of basketball fundamentals in five days of clinical tutorials.

Conklin said that when the week is put in the books, they will have learned and practiced the fundamentals of basketball, the rules, sportsmanship elements and the pure love of the sport.

“Jumpstart stresses the unique tension of teaching, practicing hard and providing a format for each camper to take chances and risks of what they learned during skill sessions in multiple games throughout the week,” he said.

The list of coaches reads as one of many years of hoops experience from a variety of basketball programs from the area, including Horizon Christian (Jazmin Stevens, Haley Becnel, Trista Hick), Vancouver, Wash. High School (Joe Mills), Dufur High School (Kup Kup Jackson), and The Dalles’ Eric Flores and Sarah Ziegenhagen.

Some of the Lower gym coaches were headlined by longtime returning coaches led by Brian Stevens.

His coaching staff of eight included Katie Conklin (third year), Zach Nerdin (first year), KJ Ramsey (fifth year), Greg Glesener (fifth year), Jason Cooper (13th year), Tim McClure (6th year), and second-year teachers, South Wasco County’s Brody Meyers and Ellis Rager.

In the lower gym and outdoor courts, the older group followed the same format as the upper gym.

Overall, the skill level is higher and Conklin said the competition found in the games amongst the older group are more intense.

The lead coach for the second-through-fourth grade boys and girls is third-year instructor, and former The Dalles Wahtonka athlete, Shanelle Smith.

Smith was in charge of seven other coaches and her task was to operate Dufur’s multi upper-court facility to maximize optimal teaching for 75 youngsters.

Part of Smith’s duties dealt with several elements of the game, as she planned the lessons for each morning and afternoon session, while integrating each of her coaches to execute the daily objectives.

Each morning, all campers met in the main gym for the quote of the day.

There were a variety of pre-written quotes to build that days lessons on, such as, “Today’s Preparation Determines Tomorrow’s Achievement” or “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” or “Success is best measured by how far you have come with the talent you’ve been given” or "The will to win cannot be greater than the will to prepare to win.”

After receiving those words of encouragement, the kids broke up into groups to practice skills on the hardwood.

At the end of each day, the kids embarked to Dufur City Pool for swimming under the sun.

There was also the Casa El Mirador Shootout, which took place every day.

All campers received a take home packet at the end of day one, detailing the week’s plan, swimming, coupons and more.

Thursday at noon all the campers were treated to outdoor lunch entertainment on the outdoor courts, where the fifth and sixth, along with the seventh-through-ninth boys and girls competed in a free throw competition, followed by the seventh-through-ninth boys and girls slam dunk competition.

During the week, team and league games are played, leading to a final tournament, an all-star game and a coaches selection for Jumpstart 110 percent campers in all gyms, Jumpstart MVP awards, and coaches choice awards.

“This week is intense and the kids and coaches make it a standout event,” Conklin added. “We are all exhausted at the end of each day, but just look at the kids and you’ll know the effort is worth it. I have to mention that, with the rising cost of equipment, supplies, fund raising donations and paid coaches, major donations from Casa El Mirador and Devco Mechanical are huge to the function of all the Jumpstart programs throughout the year.”

Along with the opportunity to work together to practice their new skills, the aim of the camp is predicated on emphasizing the basic elements, developing proper mechanics and gaining valuable experience. Campers acquire and carry the knowledge over for a chance to get a solid start to their upcoming seasons.

In the end, there is no bigger tool then getting on the hardwood.

“Muscle memory is critical at this young age,” Conklin said. “It takes many repetitions to teach the muscles a particular skill. To me, golf and basketball are two of the most difficult sports to learn. There are so many variables in these two sports, such as when to pass, shoot, dribble, pull it back, cut, screen, block etc. To be an effective basketball player, you need to be able to do any of these skills and more instantly.”

Conklin added that the coaches and their philosophy should be credited to doing something right, in that they are on the verge of completing the 21st Jumpstart Basketball camp.

“There are many to thank for this success, namely the parents that believe our philosophy of success-oriented training, the selected quality of our coaches, and all the programs in Dufur and The Dalles that have benefited from Jumpstart,” said Conklin.

Interested parents can email jumpstartyouthactivities@gmail.com or hit up www.jumpstartcamps.com for a better look at what they can participate in throughout the year.

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