Thunder Youth Camps Put Fun in Fundamentals

Phoebe McCaffrey-Horner loves to play basketball. The 10-year-old girl’s dream is to play women’s hoops at the University of Oklahoma. So this past spring, when her grandparents told her about an opportunity to hone her skills, Phoebe jumped at the chance.

She was among more than 125 kids who signed up for Thunder Youth Basketball Spring Break Camp.

“It was pretty fun,” she said. “You learned a lot. They taught you passing drills and how to work together. There’s one drill that was really fun because you would get in two lines, and then two people would pass it back and forth to each other, run down the court and then run back. It helped a lot.”

In fact, Phoebe is planning on learning more at a future Thunder Youth Basketball Camp. Monday marks the first of six such camps scheduled throughout this summer at various locations in the Oklahoma City metro area. Presented by Cox Communications, the program helps boys and girls age 6 to 16 sharpen on-court skills while learning off-court values. 

First and foremost, each five-day camp focuses on the fundamentals of Thunder basketball -- shooting drills, offensive moves, defense, rebounding and the like. But along with that come valuable off-court lessons involving hard work, sportsmanship, humility, discipline, respect and the importance of being a good teammate.

All camps are scheduled to include a Thunder presence that can include players and coaches. Camp-goers at every session will benefit from the expertise of Nate Tibbetts, a member of the Thunder coaching staff and head coach of the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder’s NBA Development League team. Rumble the Bison will visit with kids at five of the camps.

Nick Foster, who attended the Spring Break camp and is looking forward to another one later this summer, said it was an eventful time.

“It was really fun,” said the 6-year-old boy, who added that he hopes to play for the Thunder when he grows up. “We practiced and we played basketball and I got to meet Rumble.”

Thunder Community Relations Manager Wyjuana Montgomery said the response from young people has been overwhelming. 

“As I visit schools and community sites all over the metro area, it is obvious that children love the Thunder,” she said. “Thunder Youth Basketball is another way to bring the Thunder experience to children and they love it.”

Thatcher Aduddell would agree. The 8-year-old boy took part in the Spring Break camp and will attend a few summer sessions.

“It was fun and it helped me with basketball,” he said. Thatcher, who lives in Mustang, said he graduated from the camp a stronger free-throw shooter. “The coaches told me that when you’re shooting, to try and aim your hands into the goal,” he said. “That helped.”

Registration and additional information is available online at Thunder Season Ticket Members and members of the Thunder Kids Club receive a 20-percent discount off registration. Each participant receives a Thunder Youth Basketball T-shirt, headband and bag, as well as a ticket to an upcoming Thunder game. 

The Thunder works with the National Basketball Academy to run the camps. The Academy organizes youth basketball programs for several other NBA teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Phil Bacharach is the Director of Corporate Communications for the Thunder.