Chad McDowell views the Solanco Girls Basketball Camp as an opportunity for his high school players to accomplish two objectives while serving as instructors.
The Mules varsity coach says the camp provides his players with a way to give back and say thank you.
"It's awesome to see them giving back," McDowell said. "A lot of the kids here came to our games all season. They sat in the stands right behind us so this is an opportunity for our players to give back to the girls who supported them throughout the season. It's a big community thing for us. We want to give back to them and in a way say thanks for their support."
Forty-five girls between third through ninth grade attended the camp, which was held at the high school Monday, June 24 through Wednesday, June 26.
McDowell, who has led the Mules to back-to-back state tournament appearances, ran the camp for the fifth time."[The numbers] have been pretty much the same," he said. "That's normal for this time of year. We're right around where we should be. There about 90 kids in our youth program so we have about half of them here."
The camp's goals are simple. "The mission is to teach fundamentals and skills," McDowell said. "We have different stations. They're working on offense. They're working on defense. They're working on ball handling. They're working on passing and coaching. Layups. In the hallway they have speed and agility training. The basic fundamental parts of the game. We spent about an hour and 15 minutes rotating through the stations. The goal for the campers each day is to do two things. One, to have fun. Have fun playing basketball because it's a great game to play. Two, to learn something new or get better at something every day. They're here to get better and they should be trying to get better at a certain aspect of their game. I challenge them to get better at their own individual pace. Later in the morning, we do some competitions, some games, and then we finish out with some big camp game."
McDowell trusts his players to organize the drills while he and his assistants oversee the process. "[The camp] allows my players to take what they've learned and apply it in a practical situation," said McDowell. "My current players are in charge of the stations and they are the ones who run it. I give them an outline on what skills I'd like to see taught at each station but [the players determine] the drills they do, the activities they do. They do a good job with that. The counselors do most of it. I'm just the facilitator. The players are awesome and so are my coaches."
Solanco varsity players Ilynd Rapant and Emma Urbine relish the chance to work with the younger girls. "It's gives me the opportunity to take what I've learned over the years and give it to them," Rapant said. "They can learn from my mistakes. It's one thing to come here for yourself, but to come here for other kids is a great experience. I like doing it."
Urbine agrees. "It's one thing to show up for yourself, but it's completely different to show up for someone else," she said. "It's just really rewarding to see somebody else improve because of something you taught them. I get a huge reward out of watching these kids every day just improve their game and, later, see them play and what some of us taught them."
Rapant's best advice? "Always hustle. Always try your best," she said. "Because if you don't try your best, you're not going to get anywhere. That goes for life, too."