Monday, June 13, 2005

Basketball skills camp teaches fundamentals

Basketball skills camp teaches fundamentals

Phil Popielski's Basketball Skills camp begins its second session Monday and runs through June 28 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Meade Middle School. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 7 to 15.

Camp director Phil Popielski started the camp nine years ago when he was teaching at Meade Middle School. "It began as a way to get the middle school kids at Fort Meade interested in basketball," he said. Popielski currently teaches at MacArthur Middle School and is the assistant basketball coach at McDaniel College, formally known as Western Maryland College.

The camp focuses on fundamental offensive and defensive skills. Popielski believes that, "Fundamentals are a part of the game that you can improve on every day. If you develop your skills, you may be able to put yourself ahead of someone else.”

Popielski says the camp concentrates on a different skill everyday. Staff members work with campers on how to improve upon that skill in order to become better players.

"At the end of each session the kids receive a report card that tells them three or four things they will need to work on before the season starts," said Popielski.

Hundreds of youngsters have attended the camp over the past nine years and some of them still return each summer to help out with the program. Former camper Courtney Wylie is helping with the 5 and 6 year olds this year. She attended the camp two years prior to playing with her high school team. "It definitely helped me learn how to play the game," said the Meade Senior High School senior.

Jovar Joyce, also a senior at Meade, was in seventh grade the first time he attend the camp. "Mr. Popielski was my teacher and I heard a lot about the camp so I decided to give it a chance," he said. "It's a great camp, I really learned a lot and Mr. Popielski is so energetic. He really keeps you going," he added.

Guest speakers also visit the camp to encourage and inspire the young players. Most were enrolled as campers themselves at one time or another and are now playing for colleges such as the University of Maryland and Loyola.

The cost of the camp is $65 per one week session. Discounts are available for families who have more than one child attending camp, for those who want to attend multiple sessions and for those who register early. Each child receives a camp T-shirt.

Although basketball fundamentals are the camp's focus, sportsmanship and a positive attitude towards the game are also highlighted. "And above all," said Popielski, "we talk about grades. Getting good grades always comes before playing.”

In the end, however, this is still camp and the most important part of any camp, added Popielski, is to have fun.