Youth basketball camp sparks interest in sport

HOOVER – Local kids had the chance to learn from state championship-winning coaches and players at Spain Park High School youth basketball camp from June 25-28.

The “Chasing the Perfect Shot” camp for children entering grades 1-8 was hosted by Spain Park’s girls basketball team, which won the Class 7A state championship last year.

The camp lasted from 9 a.m. until noon each day, said Mike Chase, SPHS girls basketball coach and camp director.

Each day was split into three one-hour segments, with the first segment including fundamentals like stretching, ball handling and footwork.

During the second hour, campers rotated among various stations with each set up to teach drills related to defense, screens, layups and more.

In the third segment, participants were split into teams and competed in 3-on-3 games and more.

Rising Berry Middle School seventh graders Tatum Ahlemeyer and Olivia Williams were among the participants. Both said they were looking to improve with tryouts for the school team looming.

Ahlemeyer said she has competed in the Over the Mountain youth league and with the high school’s junior varsity but wanted to improve her shooting and ball handling.

“Coach Chase is really good at teaching you how to do the little things,” she said.

Williams said she has been working through a training regimen all summer, as well as strength and conditioning, but still found the camp beneficial.

“I just wanted to get a feel for what it would be like if I make the team,” Williams said.

About 40 children participated in the camp, which cost $100 for registration, Chase said.

“It’s so hard in the summer to find a time when everybody is in town,” he said.

Because of coaching transition with the boys basketball program, Spain Park did not host a separate camp for boys, so both boys and girls participated in Chase’s camp.

Chase has held such camps for a total of about 20 years—10 years at Spain Park and previously 10 years at Clay-Chalkville—and said his goal is to spark interest in the sport.

“We had a dad come in with two kids just beginning to play, and basketball was about the third thing on their list (of interests),” Chase said. “He said, ‘They came home and they went right to get out the ball and shoot in the driveway, and they’ve never wanted to do it.’”