Wallace camp puts the 'fun' in fundamentals
by Erich Hilkert
Jul 22, 2013 | 5219 views |  0 comments | 79 79 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Erica Wilson prepares to make a rebound as Victor Cameron makes a layup during the fourth annual Gerald Wallace camp.
Erica Wilson prepares to make a rebound as Victor Cameron makes a layup during the fourth annual Gerald Wallace camp.
CHILDERSBURG—The kids run laps when they miss a free throw, and not just the one who missed the free throw but every kid in the group. The 2013 Gerald Wallace camp held at Childersburg the past week and one week earlier in July taught the same kids how to make a layup, as well as other basketball fundamentals.

“Our main thing is just helping with their fundamentals, to try to let them have fun and just get a feeling of enjoyment with basketball,” Wallace said. “Our main three things are: teamwork, leadership and having fun. Nobody wants to do anything that they’re not having fun at. It’s the main thing we emphasize. We do fundamental games, we let them work on their ball handling skills, some of the defensive shuffles and slides and play a little five-on-five—work on sharing the ball, being a good teammate and being a good team player.”

Konnor Knight, a seventh grader at Childersburg middle school, said Wallace managed to find a way to make learning the fundamentals fun.

“We’re learning the basics first,” Knight said. “At the end of the camp, we get to actually go against each other. It’s a lot of fun because you get to play with your friends. You can have competitions, like who can do the best layup. It helps you. It’s a workout too because you have to run, and if you don’t do the right thing you have to run. It’s a lot of fun.”

Wallace feels fortunate to be able to give back to his hometown community of Childersburg.

“It’s a fun thing to come back home,” he said. “Any time you’re able to come back home—where you grew up and you have some time with your friends you went to school with and you’ve spent most of your life with—to be able to give back and reach out to some of the younger kids, that’s something special. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity to do it.”

In the first year of the camp, things were a little chaotic because novices and long-time players alike were performing the same drills. Wallace decided to break things down with one week for relative newcomers and one week for the more experienced players.

“The first year was kind of inclusive because we had everybody together,” Wallace explained. “We had ages 6 all the way up to 18; that’s a lot of kids. When you’re trying to balance between the older kids who know how to play basketball and are playing school ball and the younger kids who are just starting out, that’s a hectic day. That’s why we split it into two weeks: so we can give the kids who are just starting out playing basketball the attention and the care that they need as far as focusing on being a basketball player.”

With the Childersburg Arena court packed with those in attendance for the camp’s second week, Wallace said attendance at the first week of the camp was similarly strong.

“Our attendance last week was pretty good,” he said. “I think we had 75, 76 kids, and I think they had a great time. It’s a lot more difficult with the younger kids because we really have to get in and teach them the fundamentals of basketball because a lot of them are just starting out playing basketball. It’s their first year of playing basketball or their first time ever coming to a camp. We really have to get in-depth with them and teach them the skills and fundamentals. With the older kids, it’s not so much—a lot of them are on the school team or the junior high team. They pretty much know the drill; they’ve done some of the drills at school, so it’s a lot easier with them.”

Tariah Reynolds, a guard on Childersburg’s varsity team, attended the second week of the camp, her third year at the camp. She believes she still needs a lot of improvement and this year’s camp helped in that regard.

“I still have a lot to work on, so the more I come to the camp the better I get,” she said. “I need a lot of help with my left hand. That’s what I’m doing now—trying to get better with my left hand. Everybody—the girls especially—we have a really good group this year. We’re learning a lot. We get along together. We play well together too when we scrimmage. I just like the camp a lot. I always have fun when I come here. It’s a good experience. It’s also good to meet new people.”

Wallace said players who share the same attitude as players like Reynolds are the type of return players he wants to see at the camp: players who strive to improve.

“You don’t have to make it hard,” he said. “Like they tell us as professional players, you can always get better. The only way you get better is to work on something and keep working on it. These guys pretty much know the skills. We see these guys develop and get better. They do it another year and keep on getting better. That’s the main thing we try to teach them: just keep on getting better.”