There are still plenty of slots open for the Columbia Gorge Boys Basketball Camp Academy this fall for any interested hoopsters looking to improve their game.

What started out as a vision for The Dalles Wahtonka head basketball coach Bob Townsend, now is turning into reality as more than 35 have already signed up for weekly sessions.

“I am very excited about the Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy,” Townsend said. “The added time I can gain with future high school basketball players will allow me to instill the fundamental base that is imperative to a successful high school program.”

There are seven Saturday dates still upcoming at The Dalles Middle School.

The camp runs from 2-5 p.m. every Saturday and is open to all area seventh-through-ninth graders.

The primary purpose of this academy/camp is to provide area youth the court time needed to improve their hoops skills outside of the winter season.

Townsend said that the Academy is also used as an opportunity to provide training to youth coaches and to facilitate a melting pot for high school coaches to share drills and teaching techniques.

Future goals include working in conjunction with the Mid-Columbia Officials Association allowing referees the opportunity to prepare for their season, and potentially perform training with on-court examples.

Townsend has hopes to have participants from all local schools, spanning from Hood River to Arlington, Maupin to Goldendale, and every school in between.

His thought is that basketball has become a year-round activity in most successful programs.

“While my primary goal was to improve the skills of incoming freshmen to our program, I think there is significant competitive benefit to providing this opportunity to all area youth,” Townsend said.

In remaining competitive with programs outside the area, some players sign up for traveling teams, which can be expensive.

Another issue Townsend notices is the lack of court time for fifth-through-eighth grade athletes.

“While we still think the traveling team experience can be valuable, this camp provides an additional opportunity for kids that want to play more basketball, but closer to home,” Townsend added.

Saturday camps will consist of approximately 60-90 minutes of fundamental skill work. In this time, coaches will help develop individual skills, teach the participants about drills they can perform on their own, and teach team defense and offense.

Following the skills portion of the camp, coordinators will evaluate the athletes and place them on equal teams.

The last 90 minutes of camp will include participation in simulated games with officials and scorekeeping.

The cost for the Fall Basketball Academy is $50 for the initial session.

This provides the participant with an official jersey, which they will be able to keep and re-use for other session dates including the spring or summer academy.

After this, each session will cost an additional $10.

A one-time fee of $100 can be paid to cover the uniform and all eight sessions.

Townsend eyes around 10-15 more participants, and he desires to add a few fifth and sixth grade lessons for the future.

For registration information, call 541-980-8952.

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