Junior High coach Jason Briles is organizing a basketball camp to teach youngsters the fundamentals of the game.
The Itty Bitty Ballers camp for kindergarten through second graders will mainly focus on ball-handling starting on Sunday, Dec. 1 and ending Wednesday, Dec. 18.
Steers head coach Marcus Morris understands the importance of being able to take care of the ball.
“It all starts with the basics, and ball-handling is one of the basics,” Morris said. “If you can't control the ball and take it to the other side of floor, you'll have trouble. It's never too early to learn ball-handling, and if you want to be good at the game, there's no excuse for not being able to aggressively handle the ball with both hands. Plus, it's something you can always practice by yourself or with friends.”
But for Briles, volunteering for the Itty Bitty Ballers carries with it a weight that far surpasses showing young players the fundamentals.
“I've been involved with the Little Dribblers program since we moved to Graham seven years ago,” Briles said. “I find myself thinking of ways to help make youth basketball more successful in our community.”
Briles wanted to involve kids who were too young for Little Dribblers, and he wanted to include his four and five year old daughters as well.
Without any advertising or press, the camp attracted 20 kids, and Briles noticed that the young kids liked to be in the gym.
Though Briles took the initial action in putting the camp together, many other folks came together to make The Itty Bitty Ballers what it is today.
“My wife, Jennifer, came up with the idea of doing a camp for kids that weren't quite old enough for Little Dribblers,” Briles said. “I got my junior high players to volunteer and help, and they really did a great job of working with the little ones.”
Essentially, Briles wanted to create a kind of mentor environment that focused on basketball fundamentals, giving beginning players tools to improve their game, even if sometimes there's no one to play with.
“My hope that by giving kids a fundamental knowledge base of skills they can practice on their own, they will transfer those skills to a competitive setting.”
Campers will meet at the Graham Junior High main gym from 1:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays and from 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays for three weeks.
Cost of the camp is $30 per camper, and enrollees can bring their money to the first session.