2010 Suns Summer Basketball Camps

By: Mark Gretter
Posted: August 4,2010

Thunderbird High School is normally quiet during the summer months. The time is spent with minor construction projects, painting, and other general improvements to prepare the school for students in the upcoming school year. But for the week of June 27 – July 1, 2010, the campus was teeming with activity as 320 campers took over the gyms for our annual Suns Summer Basketball Day Camp.

DAY # 1:

All campers arrived at the school at noon on Sunday the 27th for check-in. During the process, they received a camp backpack filled with a full-size basketball, camp hat, camp water bottle, 2009-2010 Suns yearbook, Dick’s Sporting Goods coupons, NBA Vaccines for Teens flyer, Jr. Suns league info flyer, and an autograph card. In addition to the backpack, each camper was also given a camp t-shirt and an official camp reversible jersey to wear all week at camp.

After everyone was checked in, camp opened at 1pm. Scott Williams and Mark West were there to welcome parents and campers and then sat to sign autographs for each camper as they boarded their bus for the team selection process. We use the 2 gyms at Thunderbird High School and also send campers via school bus to Washington High School and Greenway High school to use the gyms at those schools. This ensures we have enough courts to accommodate all the teams.

Each camper is put on a team with other children in his age bracket. We have divisions for 8 & under, 9 -10, 11-12, 13-14, and 14 & over. From there, players are evaluated based upon skill level and teams are formed so that each team has a point guard as well a post player and that talent is distributed throughout all teams. The goal is to create evenly matched teams so that each individual kid at camp has a positive experience. Teams are finalized by the end of that first camp day. Camp dismissed at 5pm.

DAY #2:

Camp begins at 9am. Campers were greeted by Suns Assistant Coach Dan Majerle and Dan spoke for about 20 minutes on building your skills as a player. After this morning session, campers did station work with their divisions and returned to Thunderbird for lunch. After lunch, all teams play games against other teams in their division during the afternoon. Games concluded and all campers arrived back at the main gym about 4:15pm. Cedric Ceballos was there to talk to all campers and sign autographs. Camp dismissed at 5pm.

DAY #3:

The schedule for basketball activity for day 3 was the same as day 2. The morning session featured Alvan Adams. After lunch, Tom Leander was there to answer any Suns related questions. Both guys talked to the kids and signed autographs.

DAY #4:

The last full day of camp replicated the same basketball schedule as the previous 2 days. The morning session featured Tim Kempton. After lunch, we had Ann Meyers-Drysdale and the day concluded with a shooting clinic from Eddie Johnson. All three had great messages to the campers and all signed autographs for each and every camper.

Day #5:

Camp starts at 9am and all campers get right to their respective gyms to play games on the final day, culminating in a championship game for each division. Everyone returned to the main gym for the closing ceremonies at noon. The gym was filled with 320 campers, parents in the stands, and all camp staff. The packed gym was treated to a surprise visit from Head Coach Alvin Gentry. He stopped by just to say hello and thank everyone for attending. He talked about the importance of basketball camps in a player’s development and got a roaring round of applause from everyone. Cedric and Mark were back to help with the award presentation. The Gorilla made an appearance with help from some Sol Patrol members to put on a great dunk show for everyone. The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of our 2 draft choices from this year, Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins, being introduced to Suns fans for the very first time. All of the camp awards were handed out and Gani and Dwayne stayed around after the ceremony to sign an autograph for each camper.

Our camp was a big success this year thanks to our great network of quality coaches that work with the kids each day. We had 3 very unique stories at camp this year that are a testimony to the camp experience we offer:

  • There were 2 brothers that travelled with their mom to Phoenix from Guam to participate in the camp. It was 24 hours or total travel time to get them here the day before camp started and they left immediately after. Both brothers said they learned a lot and plan on attending next year.

  • We had a camper come from Hong Kong to be a part of camp. He and his family are from the Phoenix area, but his father works in Hong Kong. The family plans a trip home during the holidays, but now they will be making 2 trips a year so that the son can attend camp.

  • We were able to have a very special Suns fan named Justin attend camp as an assistant coach. Justin is 16 years old and attends Highland High School. In 1996, at the age of 2, Justin was diagnosed with Morquios syndrome, which is a rare type of dwarfism with several serious medical symptoms. Justin has a great attitude and did an outstanding job helping out with his team.