They're like Pied Pipers of their sports, but these Columbia County coaches are looking to lure a particular type of rodent - the gym rat.
When the school year ended last month, another season began, as a proliferation of youth sports camps beckoned aspiring athletes to local gymnasiums.
"Everyone has a camp," said Augusta Preparatory Day School basketball coach Kevin Furtado, who is conducting his own Fast Break Basketball Camp next week at Boardman Gymnasium.
"All the coaches do a good job," Furtado said. "For me, the No. 1 purpose of having a camp is to promote basketball throughout the school and the community."
Last week at Greenbrier High School, children flocked to the Brierpatch to attend volleyball camp, which was conducted by Lady Wolfpack coach Debbie Born and a half-dozen of her players.
For Born, the goal of the camp was simple.
"Awareness - promoting volleyball," Born said. "We teach the girls the fundamentals of the sport and just try to get them excited about the game."
It seems that mission was accomplished when the camp's first day concluded.
"I've got to do it again next summer," Riverside Middle School's Brittany Borror said after her work was through Tuesday at Greenbrier.
The Greenbrier volleyball camp is in its third year, and last week's session sported 45 campers.
"It's easy to get the kids motivated. Most of them have never touched a volleyball before, so it's exciting to learn something new," Born said. "They'll keep getting better every day and catch on to what volleyball is all about."
Born speaks from experience. She has coached the Greenbrier volleyball team since its inception in 1996, and had to recruit players to fill out that inaugural team.
After winning just one match that first year, the Lady Pack steadily grew into a court power. Greenbrier has claimed two region titles and produced the region player of the year the past three seasons.
Of those three - Sarah Smith, Lindsey Sutherland and Laura Schmidt - Smith and Sutherland had never touched a volleyball before playing for Greenbrier.
In that respect, some of the campers are getting a head start in the sport, including Karoline Sternschuss. She has attended all three Greenbrier volleyball camps, but last week's session was of more significance to the rising Greenbrier freshman.
"I'm trying out for the team next year, and this is helping me get used to the things I have to prepare for," the 14-year-old said. "The camp is helping me learn the moves of volleyball. It gets the adrenalin pumping, and it's really fun."
The fun included drills and simulated games, plus plenty of advice from Born and her camp counselors.
"Never give up, help each other out, and work as a team - that's the most important thing," Greenbrier volleyball player Rachel Cordier told the campers.
Earlier this month, Evans High School baseball coach Ricky Beale made a pitch of his own by putting on his first baseball camp.
"I've been wanting to do one, and it's something we're going to do every year, as long as I'm around," Beale said. "The camp went well. The kids enjoyed it and I think they learned a little."
Beale also learned a few things about the children that could later be wearing black pinstripes.
"Out of the 65 kids, I imagine about 50 were from the Evans school zone," Beale said. "The camp was a good way to meet some of the kids and teach them some fundamentals."
Proceeds from the Evans baseball camp will help pay for improvements to the school's baseball facility, and earning a little extra cash from a sports camp is one reason why some of Columbia County's high school coaches don't mind sacrificing some time during summer break.
"It's the only fund-raiser we do all year, and it pays for everything that our kids do - from shoes, to uniforms, to summer tournaments," Evans basketball coach Kevin Kenny said of the monetary rewards reaped from his camp. "Over the past six years, our players haven't had to pay for anything."
Earlier this month, the first session of Kenny's camp drew 120 children, and the coach also expects next month's second session to attract a crowd.
For Kenny, conducting camp is a win-win situation.
"Any time you introduce kids to the sport and get them playing year-round, it's good for basketball, and that will help the high school teams," Kenny said. "Some of our campers have gone on to play for me at Evans, and others have played at Greenbrier and Lakeside. It's always good to see someone from the camp go on to play in high school."
* The Sure-Shot Basketball Camp for girls entering grades 2-5 will be July 21-25 at Lakeside Middle School. The cost is $75, and daily camp times are 9 a.m. to noon. For more information call Tom Weidenaar or Dave Pitock at 855-6900.
* The second session of the Evans Basketball Camp will be July 7-11 (site to be determined). The camp is for boys and girls ages 6-14, and the cost is $100, or $85 if the camper brings a lunch from home. The cost includes a camp T-shirt and snacks each day. Trophies, awards and certificates also will be presented. For more information, call 650-8008, 863-1198 or 951-3686.
* The Fast-Break Basketball Camp at Augusta Preparatory Day School will be this week, Monday through Friday. The girls session is 8 a.m. to noon daily, and the boys session is 1 to 5 p.m. The cost is $60. For more information, call Kevin Furtado at 863-1906 ext. 374.
The third annual Football Conditioning Camp will be July 21 through Aug. 4 at Lakeside Middle School. The camp, which is for players ages 9-13, runs three days a week from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and the cost is $30. Proceeds are donated to the Lakeside Middle School booster club and other nonprofit organizations. For more information, call Donnie Hutchins at 863-4978.
Petersburg Racquet Club is offering summer tennis/swim camps for juniors age 18 and under. Half-day and full-day camps are available for all ages and levels. Camps run each week through the end of July, except for July Fourth week. Also, PRC offers group swim lessons for all ages and levels. All camps are open to nonmembers. For more information, call Petersburg Racquet Club at 860-9288 or visit www.prctennis.com.
The Technical Soccer Training camp schedule includes the following: this week, Monday through Friday, and July 14-18 - Youth Skills Camp at Citizen's Park in Aiken; July 21-25 - Youth Skills Camp at Patriots Park; Jul 21 - Coaches Clinic at Citizens Park; July 26 - 3v3 Futsal Tournament at Patriots Park, and a half-day Skills Camp at Citizens Park. For more information please log on to www.tstsoccer.com or call (706) 294-5033.
Applications are being accepted for the David Usry Junior Golf Academy summer camps at North Augusta Country Club. The program offers a series of three-day camps in July, and is open to all youth between ages 7-16. Session dates include July 1-3, July 8-10, July 22-24, and July 29-31. Daily sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each session will be limited to 10 participants. The program encompasses the following: putting, shipping, full swing, etiquette, rules, equipment, sportsmanship, course management, computer swing development and analysis, and an end of the season junior tournament. Camp costs include computer swing analysis, junior golf camp binder, instructional booklet, customized golf hat, lunch each day, and the season-ending tournament. For more information and registration, call David at 279-0704 or visit www.usrygolfacedemy.com.
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