Michelle Sweic has lived in Columbia County for less than a month, and she already has tapped into the local resources.
The 13-year-old attended the Evans Youth Basketball Camp last week, and on the final day of camp, she exited the Evans High School gym with trophies she had won in the free-throw and bank-shot competitions.
"It was fun and exciting," Michelle said Friday of her experience at the five-day camp. "My game has improved, and my shooting is better."
The 11th annual camp featured 95 participants, which was a large turnout, according to Kevin Kenny, camp conductor and coach of the Evans boys varsity basketball team.
Also working with Coach Kenny were Evans coaches Brian Killips and Roy Peake. Players from the school's boys and girls basketball teams served as camp counselors, as did Shavonne Holden, a former Harlem High hoops standout who now attends West Point.
The camp brought back some memories for Matt Hebbard. The rising sophomore at Evans is a former camp participant, but last week the member of the Knights' basketball team was a counselor.
"It looks like a lot more competition out there, especially with the little kids," Hebbard said. "They're learning how to do layups off their left foot, and how to use the backboard for bank-shots."
The camp's primary function was to teach fundamentals and sportsmanship, but for the young players, much of the fun was derived from displaying newly-learned skills.
"Even with the 6 and 7 year olds, the games are very competitive. They all want to get the ball," Kenny said.
Kenny says one week of camp can't transform a novice into a polished performer; the camp merely provided a starting point - future improvement is up to each individual.
"That's the one thing we tell them - when you leave here, you're not going to be a great player, but you'll learn some things that can make you a great player - as long as you practice," Kenny said.
Tiffany Nail plans to do just that.
The Martinez Elementary School student won the free-throw competition in the 8-9 age group, and now she's as fired up about attending more basketball camps this summer as she is about taking a family vacation to Disney World.
"At first I couldn't get the ball through the hoop," Tiffany said. "The camp was terrific. I made a bunch of new friends, and I won't forget what Coach Kenny taught me."
The camp, for boys and girls ages 6-14, was sponsored by the Evans Athletic Booster Club. A second session is scheduled July 8-12. For more information or to register, call Coach Kenny at 951-3686 or 863-1198.
Evans Youth Basketball Camp - Individual Competition Winners
Free throw: Michael Dalton (6-7 age group); Tiffany Nail (8-9); Jackson Posey (10); Brandon Holden (11-14 boys); Michelle Sweic (11-14 girls).
Bank-shot: John Bruni (6-7); Kyle Stark (8-9); Donavon Stone (10); Kevin Millward (11-14 boys); Michelle Sweic (11-14 girls).
Knockout: B.J. Collier (6-7); Carolyn Henneken (8-9); Donavon Stone (10); Bryan Jennell (11-14 boys); Lauren Middleton (11-14 girls).
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