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FDA summer hoops camp shoots for fun

Tucker Whiddon fights off an impending double-team during Fort Dale Academy’s annual summer basketball camp.  The camp, aimed at students of all ages, teaches the fundamentals of basketball while also offering a fun close to summer vacation.

Tucker Whiddon fights off an impending double-team during Fort Dale Academy’s annual summer basketball camp. The camp, aimed at students of all ages, teaches the fundamentals of basketball while also offering a fun close to summer vacation.

Though the dog days of summer wind to a close, Fort Dale Academy girls of all ages squeezed the last few days of fun from their vacation during the school’s annual summer basketball camp.

Given that the camp was open to campers from 1st through 12th grade, FDA head basketball coach Reggie Mantooth opted to change the curriculum of the camp from the more serious fare of his team-oriented programs.

The camp wasn’t solely about making its young participants better ballers.  It’s equally about making them care about the game in the first place.

“For the younger kids, we’re trying to create interest in basketball,” Mantooth said.

“So we do a lot of fun things and at the same time try to teach them some of the basic skills, like the right way to shoot, dribble and pass.  But we really want to make it a fun time so that we can create some interest in the game.

“We do gotcha every day, and we do hotshot.  We do some dribbling relay races and shooting games. We definitely do some skill development, but it’s more centered on having a good time and some fun-time games that revolve around basketball.”

The games more oriented on fun also double as an opportunity to foster competitive spirit among the girls, as well.

“ We want them to have fun, but I think at that age they’re still competitive, and they want to try and win,” Mantooth added.

“We try to recognize the winners each day, so it’s something they’re striving for, for sure.”

Given that the summer camp is open to the entire body each year, keeping track of the numerous campers is no small feat.  Luckily for Mantooth, he had help from some more-than-capable assistants.

“I had Anjoy Castleberry, who just graduated this year, help out with it,” Mantooth said.

“And I had Tyler Manning, who played several years ago and has been an assistant coach at Andalusia for the last couple of years.  Tyler’s kind of been coming back and helping with the girls ever since she graduated.  She kind of knows what we do and how we run things.

“And of course Coach Regina Parker, our junior high coach, helped out, too.”

And though the impending volleyball and football seasons will serve as a buffer until basketball season begins properly in November, camps not only offer a chance for basketball enthusiasts to keep their skills sharp, but it’s also a breeding ground for prospective players.

“We hope we can build interest and that it gets them excited about wanting to play basketball,” Mantooth said.

“A lot of times, you can tell the younger players who might be good in the future, but it’s all about keeping that interest up and finding who really takes a joy to playing basketball.”