Opportunities for basketball players to enhance their skills are plentiful. So what makes The University of Olivet’s Basketball Summer Camp unique? It’s not just about becoming more skillful, it’s about having the right mindset to accomplish great things – in life and on the court. Young athletes are given the chance to train with current college players and coaches who understand the impact mentoring has on developing players, just as they were mentored when they were young, aspiring athletes.
This year’s Basketball Summer Camp welcomed nearly 90 boys and girls from ages 3-12 to Cutler Event Center to practice skills such as dribbling, shooting and passing basics, as well as self-confidence and team building, doing all of course, with a positive attitude. In addition, participants competed in different contests and games showcasing their three-point and free throw shooting abilities with a fun twist.
The foundation for an outstanding camp begins with OC Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Ernst who had an impressive high school and collegiate basketball career himself before launching his coaching career. Now with nearly 20 years of coaching experience, Coach Ernst has worked with athletes of all skill levels, giving him a deeper understanding of the growth and development stages a player transcends to find his or her peak performance, and more importantly, how to help each individual reach his or her goals. Under Coach Ernst’s direction, the Comets posted its most successful season in three years in the 2016-17 season.
“I truly enjoy the opportunity to work with young campers and expose them to what is so special about OC,” Coach Ernst said. “Our facilities are great for camp. The hoopers from over 12 different school districts are excited to learn, as well as interact and compete with each other and our counselors. With the energy and enthusiasm that the campers bring, it makes all of us on the coaching staff want to raise our game for them. I anticipate many future Comets will get their start at our summer camps.”
Volunteer mentors from Olivet’s own basketball team serve as role models for the campers. One of this year’s mentors is senior Aaron Washington, an exercise science major from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Aaron, who plays at guard, holds OC’s single season record for three-pointers, totaling 66 shots in the 2016-2017 season. With an accomplishment like that, it’s hard to believe that the previous year Aaron tore his meniscus and sat out the entire season. With a long road of recovery ahead, Aaron doubted himself immensely, preparing to face the reality that his collegiate basketball career was over. It was then that Aaron’s coaches and teammates proved him wrong, jumping in to assist in his recovery and provide encouragement every step of the way. Paired with hard work and a strong understanding of the way his body operates and heals (thanks to his major) Aaron entered the 2016-17 season better than ever.
“I love playing basketball,” Aaron said enthusiastically. “It makes me feel like a kid again, just out there having fun. At the same time, I’ve always had high expectations for my own performance, and so does Coach Ernst. He really wants what’s best for you and will push you to succeed.”
Facing – and overcoming – challenges is something Aaron hopes to be able to help young athletes do. He especially wants to instill the importance of being on a team. Instead of spending his summer break back home, Aaron is sticking close to campus to make his mentoring role a top priority.
“Playing basketball has always helped keep me out of trouble, so I know how important it is to keep kids engaged in the sport,” explained Aaron. “I know I always looked up to older guys playing the sport and I hope to be the person young athletes today look up to.”
Save the date and register for the second session of Olivet’s Basketball Summer Camp, July 24-27. At the end of every camp, aspiring athletes leave with new friends, valuable skills and the memory of what it’s like to be an OC Comet! Learn more about other The University of Olivet sports camps.