FRONTENAC — Lifelong memories were made at the All-Area Fantasy Basketball Camp on Friday and Saturday inside Frontenac High School, where local kids of all ages were given the opportunity to be coached by members of the University of Kansas men’s basketball team and the Pittsburg State women’s basketball team.
A two-day event full of shooting, passing and dribbling turned out to be a success for everyone involved.
“It’s a great opportunity for all the kids,” St. Mary’s-Colgan girls’ basketball coach Abby Farabi said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to play with the KU players in southeast Kansas. It’s just awesome.”
The camp is not only a time for the local kids to meet their heroes, but it’s also an opportunity for the players to make new friends.
“It’s just fun and I enjoy doing it,” KU guard Devonte’ Graham said. “This is my third year doing it and I think this is one of the best camps I go to. It’s just awesome to give back to the community and the kids love being here, so it’s just a good time for everybody.”
KU guard Lagerald Vick said coaching at the camp makes up for missing out on them as a kid.
“Just coming out here and being with the kids is special,” Vick said. “I never got a chance to go to camps growing up, so I just feel great being around all these kids and helping them improve. Anything I can do for the kids is great.”
With highly accomplished coaches and players in both gyms, campers rotated from station to station, performing various drills to promote improvement in all aspects of the game.
“I think this is a great opportunity for all of the area kids to meet some great players,” FHS girls’ basketball coach Martha Harper said. “It’s just great that they take their time to come down here and work with our kids. You see how excited the kids are to play with these college players and it gets them inspired to play more.”
Graham said playing alongside kids who look up to him is a humbling experience.
“Sometimes you see a kid get starstruck because they’re used to just seeing us on TV,” he said. “It’s fun to watch their expression when they meet us and then they see that we’re regular people just like them. They love to play with us, so it’s pretty cool.”
In addition to the kids learning the game, area coaches also get new ideas to take back to their practices.
“I love listening to the other area coaches, seeing their drills and listening their philosophies,” Farabi said. “I’m always open to learning. Even seeing the drills we do during rotation from Rod Wescott and Brad Herlocker, I always carry them over and use them on my team. It’s just great to get some new drills to take back with me.”
An event as big as the All-Area Fantasy Basketball Camp takes a lot of effort from everyone involved, but always pays off in the end.
“This is great for southeast Kansas,” Girard boys’ basketball coach Rod Wescott said. “Jared and Jill Pile do a great job of putting this on. There’s a lot involved and you have to give them a lot of credit because they do a lot for the area and for basketball. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to get in the gym and play for a couple days.”
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.