All About Teammates: Aldrich, Cook stress importance of teamwork at Thunder Youth Basketball Camp

The Thunder campers formed two lines on opposite sides of the court. One camper began dribbling toward the basket, which was being defended by 6-foot-5 Thunder player Daequan Cook and his 6-foot-11 teammate, Cole Aldrich.

From the other side, another camper came in to assist his fellow teammate, hoping to take some of the pressure off the ball handler. The two were working together to score, working as a team.

Teamwork is a core value taught in the Thunder Youth Basketball program. Of course, the five-day camp is centered on the fundamentals of basketball and improving skills such as passing and dribbling, but an equal amount of emphasis is placed on key character lessons, which include respect and support for fellow campers.

Thunder center Aldrich shared his outlook on teaching youth the concept of teamwork and cooperation. “At a young age, it’s really important to hit at the morals of playing a good game and a very sportsmanlike game,” he said.

“I think it all starts at camps here during the summer, where you can build that and then you go move toward playing competitive games with your team during the school year. Building those characteristics now is really important to the game.”

Cook recognizes the importance of teamwork and is ready to begin the season with his new teammates.

“It (teamwork) is very important,” he said. “You don’t want to come in and mess up the team chemistry. These guys have been playing together for awhile now and it’s important for me to come in and play my role and not try to change it up. I want to try to help my team in any way possible.”

Kids ages 5 to 16 attended the camp. Eight-year-old Ethan Lawrence waited in line to meet Cook and Aldrich, and he shared what he had learned.

“We learned how to pass the ball and a lot of great stuff,” Lawrence said. “Also, you make friends, too, and they really help out. They cheer you on and everything, so it’s pretty cool. We learned about teamwork and how you can help people and it could change the game.”

More than 80 kids participated in the Thunder’s last basketball camp of the summer. Earlier in the week, the children received a visit from Rumble.

“We had a great time today. Just to come out to the camp and to really have fun with the kids, it not only means a lot to them, but it really means a lot to us,” said Aldrich.

The Thunder Youth Basketball camps are presented by Cox Communications. More Thunder Youth Basketball programs are planned for the upcoming season.