Bobby Madison Basketball Camp celebrates milestone with another successful week

Published 9:18 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA – One of the area’s longest standing summer sports traditions celebrated another great year as the Bobby Madison Basketball Camp took the court at Columbiana Middle School from June 24-27.

Madison and his coaches welcomed about 95 kids to teach them basketball fundamentals and life lessons.

“First two days have been a lot of excitement, a lot of fun and I think the kids are definitely learning some good basketball fundamentals,” Madison said.

This year’s camp is extra special because it celebrates the 15th anniversary of the inaugural camp which occurred back in 2009. The 2024 edition is the 14th iteration due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the 2020 camp and is the second to take place at Columbiana Middle School.

The energy and passion for basketball that the campers show is what keeps Madison coming back to host year after year.

“It’s always a tiring week, but again, the kids energize me when I walk in in the morning and they’re running around laughing and having fun,” Madison said. “It just brings me joy to see that many kids excited to be at basketball camp and sharing some of the game that I love and enjoying it.”

The overall goal of the camp is to instill a love for basketball while also establishing good fundamentals. Campers learned how to shoot and handle the ball, two skills that Madison believes are essential in the modern game, as well as defense and rebounding.

The coaches also teach the kids how to replicate the drills at home so they can continue working on their game long after they leave the camp, hopefully helping them to continue chasing their basketball dreams.

“I would like to think that it sparks the fire in some of the kids,” Madison said. “We try to get drills that they can work on at home when they’re not with us, so I know we only have them a lot of them for one week. So, a lot of the drills that we do, our kids can go out in the driveway if they have a basketball and work on dribbling, work on shooting form, you can do several things on your own, and we try to introduce those things to the kids hoping that it sparks an interest and let them know that if they work hard at it, they can achieve it.”

Madison doesn’t limit the teaching moments to just basketball as he and his guest speakers help teach the kids how to become better people on and off the court.

He always stresses good sportsmanship, working together as a team and being coachable. The goal is for them to take something from the camp and use it in their lives even if they don’t play basketball at a higher level, which Madison knows is not in the cards for everyone.

“I would love for every kid to go on and play college basketball and have a professional career like I did,” Madison said. “But the reality of it, that’s not the case. We’re not all going to do that, but though they may not become professional basketball players, they definitely will be positive influences and role models in our communities and they may be able to give back to community kids in a way that impacts them and just shows a positive way of doing things.”

Madison is also proud of his coaching staff, which once again is filled with former professional and college players. Madison himself is one of those former players as he played professionally in South America and collegiately at Western Michigan after graduating from Shelby County High School.

He believes that the high level of coaching compared to the cost has brought familes back year after year and helped the camp continue to be successful.

“The camp is very low cost based on what we provide as far as the coaching and all the instruction and the coaching staff,” Madison said. “I always talk about the coaching staff. It’s an amazing group of people, high basketball IQ, a lot of basketball experience.”

With 14 camps over 15 years, Madison is grateful for the continued support of the Columbiana community to keep the camp going every year and continue educating generation after generation.

“It’s a testament to the community,” Madison said. “It’s a testament to the businesses here that support us. We have several sponsors that every year they ask me sometimes, ‘Hey, when is basketball camp? Make sure you come see me. I want to make sure we help out with it.’ That’s the amazing part of it. For me, Columbiana is a pretty awesome place if you think about it.”