Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2008

Local program beats wild recruiting circuit

August 7, 2008

In this crazy world of sports there is always something coming up that brings about much discussion.

One of the latest items of interest has been the alleged report that Kentucky University men's basketball coach Billy Gillespie has obtained an oral commitment from an eighth-grade boy. How crazy is this? And when are all of these unbelievable recruiting incidents going to end? I can't believe an eighth-grade boy that still has four years of high school left is being recruited by a university coach. This always brings up much controversy regarding summer ball that includes camps, clinics and leagues.

Summer participation undoubtedly may help a boy or girl get better prepared for varsity sports in high school or to eventually play at the college level, but I doubt that it will have any importance of getting into the NBA or WNBA.

I am no authority on summer camps or leagues, but I do believe boys or girls playing 95 or 100 games in the summer is too much. These are just kids and they should be kids at that age and having fun with their friends. I do believe a parent deciding to send their son or daughter to one of these high-price camps should first consult with their high school coach or athletic director for their recommendation. Summer ball is proven to be a benefit to high school sports; that much is evident by schools with successful athletic teams where the majority of their players participate in summer competition.

The AAU has been notorious for sponsoring tournaments and camps that are very costly for the athletes and the tournaments are held all across the country. The McDonald's All-American Classic for high school-age boys is a good example. This game gets the interest of high-caliber players and if an athlete is fortunate enough to participate, he is almost assured a college scholarship. The question is, what price do you want to pay for this accomplishment?

Locally, we have in my opinion a fine program that is competitive for boys and girls basketball which is the Swoosh Program under the direction of two dedicated coaches, Ken May and Fred Stanbrough. This is a nonprofit club with Ken and Fred donating their services and the athletes are responsible for the league fee. This Swoosh Program has really paid off for Bonner Springs High School girls' basketball. In 2003 the high school girls' teams under coach Garold Baker posted the best record ever at BSHS with an overall record of 17-4. This team started as fifth graders and stayed together until they were ready for high school. Two of the players I got to know real well working at the community center were Morgan McConico and Amanda Berry. Morgan and Amanda were three-year starters under Baker. Amanda was hampered in her senior year with a knee injury. These two came up to the community center playing on the gym that little did they know eventually would become known as Jim's Gym. These girls always treated me with much respect. Morgan was named the female Athlete of the Year with her name inscribed on the Jim Finley Award at the High School. In talking with Ken recently he said the Swoosh Club had another good class that will soon be playing at the high school.

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