Danville girls coach Judie Mason has always liked to run a combined summer basketball camp for girls and boys.
Admirals boys coach Andrew Zaheri feels the same way, and both were pleased with how this week’s basketball camp turned out.
“And it’s about 50-50 (boys and girls), and it’s always good for the girls and boys programs to work together. And it’s something I’ve always tried to do when I was at Somerset with coach (Shawn)¿Thacker, and when I was Boyle with Ronnie Bottoms and with coach (Matthew)¿Yates here,”¿Mason said. “But basketball is basketball, whether it’s male or female. And a lot of these little females can play with these boys, especially at the middle school level.
“But we’ve having a good time this week and coach Zaheri is very enthusiastic and does a good job with the kids.”
Zaheri has been pleasantly surprised for the turnout at his first Danville camp.
“We have 44 campers from all different age groups. It’s one of those things that when summer starts, you really don’t know about your numbers. And really, I felt our numbers might have been better,” Zaheri said. “We had to postpone it a week due to some gym preparations. But we’ve been really tickled.”
Zaheri said at a school like Danville, it’s important that both teams have a good working relationship. This camp helps do that.
“One of the things, especially at a small school, it’s so important that the girls and boys program work together and get on the same page,” he said. “So I think if you start at an earlier age, it does make it easier when they get up to high school.”
Mason said that holding a combined camp made sense because the kids grow up together and can learn from each other, even the high school players who are helping out.
“And when the camp’s over with, they play open gym together, even the high school kids. And our girls are pretty athletic, so it helps us to compete against the boys,”¿she said. “It’s fun to watch my older kids work with the younger kids. Because a lot of times, you don’t think they’re listening to you, but they’re relaying the same message to those kids I’m trying to relay to them. So they really are listening, and it helps me too because I know they are listening.”
The camp also allows Mason and Zaheri to scout future talent.
“That’s why I even did this at Somerset,” Mason said. “I had 150 kids when I left Somerset. And I think if you don’t build your clientele, especially in a smaller school, you lose them to other sports, and at a small school they need to play all the sports. So absolutely, it helps to know each kid personally, too.”
It helps parents as well, Zaheri said, because parents can bring all their kids at once.
“It’s one of this things, where, especially when you have so many brothers and sisters and try to work around people’s schedules, you can bring them all in at once and all have a good time,” he said.
And this may not be the last camp of the summer. Both Zaheri and Mason have floated the idea of having a second camp sometime in July before volleyball practice begins.
We’re looking at maybe doing something before school starts. Maybe in July to have one, because if kids can’t attend this one maybe they can come in July,”¿Mason said.