This year's edition of the Wayne County Commissioners camp attracted dozens of talented youngsters.
Any varsity basketball program that hopes to maintain a consistent level of success must do so by building and maintaining a healthy youth feeder program.
If the attendance and enthusiasm demonstrated at this year's Wayne County Commissioners boys youth hoops camp is any indication, then the future of Honesdale basketball appears exceedingly bright.
The 2014 Commissioners Camp ran all last week at the Wayne Highlands Middle School gym and attracted more than 50 talented young cagers.
This group ranged in age from second to eighth grade and featured players poised to make a positive impact on the Red & Black scene.
“I'm very pleased with how everything went this year,” a smiling Coach Wood said on the final day.
“We had a great week here at camp. We focused on the fundamentals ... with an emphasis on the f-u-n.”
As the succulent scent of grilled hot dogs wafted through the gym and high school-aged volunteers scurried about the gym, Coach Wood took a few minutes to reflect on the week that was and speculate about the future.
The Commissioners Camp in Honesdale is quickly closing in on its 25th year of existence.
It had its genesis under Wayne Area Sports Hall of Famer Ron Rowe, who coached the varsity Hornets for more than three decades.
Coach Wood organized and oversaw the clinic's operations. He received a great deal of help from the likes of Maria West, Mike Miller, Larry Patrisso and Rowe.
All of these clinicians are coaches at different levels of the Honesdale program. They, in turn, received invaluable support from current high school players Don McGinnis, Nick Casazza and Josh LoBasso.
“I can't say enough about those three boys,” Coach Wood said. “I'm very, very impressed that they would volunteer to come up here on hot summer days and volunteer their time to help these kids.”
McGinnis, Casazza and LoBasso are all alumni of the Commissioners Camp.
On the Court
A typical day at Coach Wood's clinic begins at 9 a.m. with a short talk on some aspect of basketball.
“We try to focus in on some of the intangibles,” he said. “For instance, one day we talked about having a good work ethic. The next day we discussed how to be a good teammate.”
From there, the boys broke up into small groups and rotated through several learning station. Players remain at each for exactly 12 minutes and then move on to the next.
Following a snack and drink provided by Wayne County's Parks & Recreation Program, every camper heads to the free throw line to practice foul shots.
Next up is a camp-wide “chalk talk” concerning the day's point of emphasis.
“That could be anything from form shooting to finishing lay-ups with contact from a defender,” Coach Wood said.
Without question, the campers' favorite part of the day comes right at the end when they're split up into teams and play games.
“We encourage the kids to concentrate on using whatever skill we were emphasizing that particular day,” Coach Wood said.
“But, for the most part, we just want them to go out there and have fun.”
Camp ended each day at noon, Monday-Thursday.
To a person, clinicians and volunteers said that every camper seemed to enjoy the experience and show marked improvement.
However, four talented young hoopsters stood out from the rest and received awards on the final day.
Two players (one from each age group) were awarded medals for their on-court achievements.
Will Howell (eighth grade) and Connor Coar (sixth grade) each claimed first place in the free throw shooting contest. Howell drained an eye-popping 85 percent of his tries, while Coar netted 65 percent.
Coaches Choice Awards were also presented.
“Trying to pick just two kids out of the great group was really tough,” admitted Coach Wood.
“What we were looking for specifically was which players were taking what we taught and putting them into practice on the court.”
Karter Kromko (third grade) earned the award for the Junior Division, while Adam Blake (seventh grade) took Senior Division honors.
Commissioner Wendell Kay attended the final day of camp and was thrilled with what he saw.
“The Wayne County Commissioners are really fortunate to be able to support camps like these,” Kay said.
“We believe it's very important to give our children as many positive experiences as possible. It's great to see so many kids here, learning the importance of hard work, communication and teamwork.”