As winter approaches, so does basketball season, and the St. James Sports Center wants to make sure future hoops stars are well equipped with the fundamentals to play the game.
On Saturday, 60 boys and girls got a free opportunity to hone their skills at the second St. James Fundamentals Camp.
“This time we opened it to boys and girls,” St. James Sports Director Ernie Walthour said. “And there was no charge for the kids to come in.”
Walthour said he recognizes that basketball is a primary sport among kids in Liberty County. He said getting kids started early on the fundamentals will help them develop their skills and possibly help them earn scholarships to play in college.
As the coach of the Coastal Crew Rebels, Walthour has seen about a dozen of his former players make it to the college level. He said starting early is the key, which is why he decided to host the camps. He said the free admission allowed some kids to participate who otherwise would not be able to.
“We want to keep the younger kids in the county working on the fundamentals of basketball, and a lot of people are going through hard times,” he said. “They don’t have the money to send their kids to some of these expensive camps around the state, so we are trying to provide some of the fundamentals here at St. James.”
The camp originally was open to fifth- through eighth-graders, but Walthour said he received calls from several kids in fourth grade and allowed them to attend the camp as well.
“We didn’t want to turn anyone down,” he said. “It’s been good. They watched the bigger kids and saw how they were developing, and it is helping them develop.”
During the morning session, the kids participated in fundamental drills for two hours, which included running two laps around the St. James soccer field.
The group then broke for lunch and afterward participated in scrimmages, which incorporated all the different age groups and skill levels on two teams of boys and two teams of girls.
Walthour said the camp was made possible by Liberty Chrysler, which helped with the T-shirts, the St. James church and Osteen and Osteen Law Firm.