High school coaches call summer camps win-win situation

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



With the gym doors open, one can hear the bouncing balls and the shrill from the whistles and the squeaks from the shoes all the way out to the parking lot at Hudson’s Bay High School.

Inside the gym last week were 50 youngsters — ranging in school age from incoming fourth-graders to freshmen — all learning from the Eagles.

Similar scenes occur across Clark County and much of the rest of the high school basketball system in this country. Varsity programs host clinics for those looking to become tomorrow’s high school stars, or for those just looking to have a good time with the game they love.

In many cases, such as at Bay, the current players coach the youngsters and officiate the games.

It turns out, just that experience alone helps the adult coaches. Andy Meyer, Bay’s head coach, has been holding his team’s clinic for four years now. He appreciates when his high school players learn some appreciation for what he does.

“I see they’re making some of the same mistakes I do,” said Ane Sipaia, a sophomore-to-be at Bay, who was coaching a grade-school age team. “Now I know what my coach thinks when we don’t do things right. It shows me that I have to become a better listener.”

Meyer just smiles when he hears that.

Sipaia also said he had a blast, and it was a joy to watch his players improve.

“It’s fun to do. They’re fun to be around,” he said.

Proceeds from Bay’s clinic — $80 per camper — go back to the program, to help pay for the summer schedule, which includes traveling to various tournament.

Meyer called it a win-win.

“It’s great for the community. We provide a valuable service,” he said. “And it’s a good way for our (high school) kids to earn some of the stuff we do throughout the summer.”

Al Aldridge, the girls basketball coach at Prairie High School, also used the term “win-win” for his clinic.

“It gives our (younger) kids a chance to meet their role models,” Aldridge said.

This summer, the players in his program coached and officiated, just like the boys at Hudson’s Bay. In the past, Aldridge has invited college coaches to provide instruction. This year, though, he wanted to see his players interact with the younger girls.

Some of his players noted the frustration of being a coach.

“Welcome to my world,” Aldridge would tell them.

Aldridge has run a camp for more than 30 years, starting with a combined camp with Fort Vancouver in the 1970s. At the time, Aldridge believed it was the only one of its kind for girls basketball in Southwest Washington.

Nowadays, there are camps throughout the summer hosted by several schools, for boys and girls. The Camas boys program had such a successful camp in June that it is scheduling another one in August.

The June camp featured more than 60 athletes from second grade through eighth grade, according to Camas coach Scott Preuninger. The August camp is only be available for grade-school players, but already he has 24 athletes signed up to participate.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from our one in June. I think we run a good, little camp,” Preuninger said. “I’ve taken bits and pieces from other camps I’ve worked with throughout the years.”

Just like most of the other camps, his older players got involved.

“It’s a good way for them to give back to our youth program,” Preuninger said. “They really enjoy it, and the young kids enjoy them being there, too.”

The coaches also agreed that having the players officiate the games during camp should open their eyes to that job, as well.

“They get to learn what it’s like to be an official,” Preuninger said. “It’s not as easy as they think it is.”

Many camps, such as the ones at Hudson’s Bay and Camas, raise funds for the program. Aldridge said his camp is a personal business, and he uses the money to offset some of the costs of his own coaching endeavors throughout the summer and the rest of the off-season calendar.

No matter, the camps provide a site close to home for the youngsters, with a chance to play in the high school gym with high school athletes looking on as coaches and officials.

Older players becoming coaches; younger players getting a chance to hang with the varsity.

As the adult coaches would say, a win-win summer activity.

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