DUFUR – Dufur High School turned into basketball central last week for the 24th annual Jumpstart Camp, as more than 140 participants showed up to learn the fundamentals of the game from expert coaches from across the Gorge.
For Tom Conklin, he said it is of extreme importance that kids find a positive outlet to hone their roundball skills.
“The important part of all of this is to give these athletes a reason to get out of the house, get some exercise and work with coaches on the fundamentals of the game,” Conklin said. “We had 130-140 kids and that’s a good number. When you consistently fill out the signup list, it shows you are doing something right and that is a credit to all of the great coaches and coachable athletes.”
The athletes were split into groups with 57 boys and girls from first-through-fourth grade in the upper gymnasium for drill work focused on dribbling, shooting, lay-ups, jump shots, and pick and rolls.
In the mornings, sessions began with team-building activities, skill teaching and drill work, and then the campers were put into game situations to put their skill learning into a muscle memory track.
The afternoon portion works the same way, but kids were instructed in a new set of skills. During the week, the campers go through this format and then they go to the court to refine their skills, take chances and develop their skill base.
On the final day, Friday, both the upper and lower played in tournaments, so it is a good time for teams to learn the operation of how brackets and tournaments work.
While an athlete may be blessed with speed, size, possess solid inside skills or a deadly 3-point shot, Conklin said none of those attributes matter if a player cannot mesh with his or her teammates.
“There’s discipline, there’s listening to people that have some wisdom and there’s teamwork – that’s huge,” he said. “We talked earlier in the week and we started with teamwork and how well these athletes work with others. We are and will be on many teams. There is great emphasis placed on being able to work together as a cohesive unit.”
At the end of camp, players were given several awards and were treated to a camp slideshow.
While Conklin will still head the Jumpstart Elementary School races in September, the spring track meets and the winter trail races, new The Dalles girls’ basketball coach Brian Stevens takes over as camp director.
Stevens has a long-term vision and plan for the direction of the camp.
“Our focus is going to be on building character, basic fundamentals and man-to-man help side defense,” Stevens said.
The money raised helps fund the Jim Schultz Scholarship program at Dufur schools and many of the other Dufur sports programs. In addition, Conklin said he was extremely blessed to raise money from the Jumpstart track and cross country races, the hoops camp and other yearly events, so he can cut checks for Home at Last, the Salvation Army, The Dalles River Trail Project and other programs.
Next month, Stevens is running his 2017 Elite Athletics camps with high school and college kids from July 22-25 and the middle school camp on July 26-29.
For information on these upcoming events, call 541-340-0007.