Each of Cherokee County’s six high schools have offered or will offer some sort of summer sports camp or another in the next couple of months. The most popular camp being offered is in football, but basketball isn’t far behind. Other camps are being held in baseball, lacrosse, soccer, cheerleading, wrestling and volleyball.
The camps, which are usually conducted by the coach of a given high school team, give young players the opportunity to learn from high school, college or even professional athletes. Woodstock’s football camp features current San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller, a former standout for the Wolverines.
Mike Nayman, who is in his eighth season as the baseball coach at Creekview, sees the camps as a way to both give back to the community and prepare athletes who may one day find themselves on his team.
“I couldn’t be more thankful or pleased for the community out at Creekview,” Nayman said. “It’s been great for the standpoint of me seeing some of the kids at a young age. So many of my former and current athletes came up through our camp. It gives you a little bit of a look-see of who is in your feeder system. It’s that sense of community — I like to think that camps give something back to the community, no matter where you are at. It’s really a pretty neat experience.”
Etowah girls basketball coach Robert Westbrook agrees that hosting a camp has a way of bringing athletes — past and present — together with aspiring players and coaches.
“It gives these kids a chance to get to know the high school players for a week,” he said. “I know our kids love it, and I think the kids in the community like it, too, so it’s a win-win.”
Boys basketball coach Roger Kvam is in his 10th year of holding camps where he coaches at Cherokee. He said that all of the positions for the camp have been filled this year, and that’s a good thing.
“We sold out three weeks before our camp,” he said. “It’s a great chance for our high school kids to coach — alumni are coming back. It’s an awesome week of basketball for these kids. It’s a week we look forward to every year.”
The camp at Cherokee is one that is bringing back former athletes. The seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are instructed by athletes who played college basketball.
“They are getting really taught by kids who are all-region, all-state in high school and went on to play in college,” Kvam said. “They are doing a great job of teaching these sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.”
While many of the camps have met their maximum enrollment, others like the basketball camp at Etowah conducted by Westbrook and boys coach Don Hurlburt, have spots open in each of the next two weeks.
“We have two gyms, so we’d like to get as many kids as we can possibly accommodate in,” Westbrook said. “We have spots open in each of the next two weeks.”
Information about many of the camps is available online. Students do not have to live in a school’s district to attend its summer camp.
“There is a point when, as a coach, you put aside your allegiance to the school and it’s just about helping young players learn more,” Nayman said. “Of course, with the feeder programs, it can be different, but with the summer camps, it’s just about letting a player learn all he or she can about a game, be it baseball or basketball or whatever.”