Kids of all ages have congregated to Brownstown Central’s auxiliary gym the past two weeks aiming to sharpen their skills on the hardwood.
Last week, Braves girls varsity coach Karla Rieckers headed camps for incoming third- and fourth-graders and seventh- and eighth-graders.
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This week, the fifth- and sixth-graders will go to camp while the seventh- and eighth-graders participate in their second straight group of practices.
The first group that headed to the gymnasium, the third- and fourth-graders, practiced learning the basics.
It was a mix of about 25 kids who were playing basketball for the first time and athletes who attended in the past.
“We just want to focus on fundamentals, a lot of dribbling,” Rieckers said. “For some of them they’re more experienced, but others it’s the first time picking up a basketball. We did a lot of passing and dribbling. We didn’t do a whole lot of shooting because they’re not really strong enough to get the ball up there with proper form.”
While the kids are mostly beginners, the camp’s passing drills are a little advanced.
“Basically, we try and start to teach them three-man weave and passing drills,” Rieckers said. “We do a lot of jump stops and pivots, machine gun passing and five-star passing. We do a lot of things to make it fun but also competitive at the same time.”
In the afternoon session, the incoming seventh- and eighth-graders mimic high school’s practices. Around 27 kids are participating.
Many of the campers also participate in league games throughout the state during the summer.
“We push them more,” Rieckers said. “They come in and almost do a practice like we do in the high school. They do the same drills we do, we’re putting in offenses. On June 16 we’re going to Corydon and playing in a junior high tournament. They’re that higher step, and we want to keep pushing them.”
This week, the fifth- and sixth-graders are taking the courts for a one-week camp.
The kids will work on intermediate and advanced drills to prepare for the middle school program.
During the camps, members of the Braves’ junior varsity and varsity teams are helping coach the young players.
“For my high school girls, it’s a little bit of an eye-opener for them,” Rieckers said with a smile. “They will tell them to do something and they won’t always do it. I tell (the high schoolers) ‘remember when I tell you to do something and you don’t, that’s how I feel.’ They ask if they were like that at that age.”
This upcoming winter, the Braves will have one senior and two juniors on their varsity team.
“A bulk of my team is freshmen and sophomores,” Rieckers said. “It’s really nice to see them take a leadership role and work with some of the younger kids. They’re the kids’ role models.”