Situated under one of the baskets inside the Lansing High School gymnasium Wednesday was a large shopping cart filled with red and white basketballs featuring the Lions’ logo.
At the Lions’ middle school girls basketball camp operated by head coach Christine Robinson, the balls are given to campers when they leave. But, they also serve a larger purpose than being simply a door prize or a way to draw more campers.
They’re an incentive.
“Really we just give them the tools here at camp,” Robinson said. “We only have them for two hours (a day) and we give them a ball when they leave. We’ll encourage them to take that ball home with them and practice the ball-handling, the shooting and all the stuff that we’ve worked on. If they wear the tread off the ball, then they get a new ball.”
The middle school camp ended Thursday, but the fundamentals Robinson tries to instill in the community’s youth are supposed to last until the next summer camp, with each year building off the previous until the players reach high school.
With more than 40 players attending this year, Robinson said the participation and support from the area is one of the reasons she hosts the camp.
“Our community is very supportive,” Robinson said. “The girls are excited and they want to get better at the game. They’re excited for the future, which makes me excited.”
Enlisting the help of a few assistant coaches as well as current players, Robinson divides the girls into age groups and has her coaches give special attention to each player individually.
Among the coaching tips, the bouncing basketballs and the giggling is the future of Lansing girls basketball.
Because Robinson knows this, she said the camp offers a glimpse into what the players can expect when they get to the high school program. With a basic system introduction and the use of drills that Robinson uses with her high school players, she said the Lansing High School girls basketball camp lays the framework for any future LHS player.
“It just kind of introduces them to what we do, I’m teaching them parts of our high school offense, I’m teaching them all my defensive drills,” Robinson said. “I don’t expect them to be experts when they get to high school, but at least they’re familiar with what we do here. It makes it an easier transition when they get to high school.”
On top of the high school preview is the opportunity to work with current Lions players.
Each day is separated by positional skills, so Robinson rotates her high school players accordingly. One day, the campers learn guard skills so Lansing guards come to help, another day is for post play, overseen by Lansing interior players.
While she said she hasn’t been at Lansing long enough to see the lasting effects of her basketball camps, Robinson said in her third year as head coach she’s noticed an increase in skill and understanding of campers attending.
“This will be my third season here,” Robinson said. “I’m really starting to see that every summer it gets a little easier, because the kids are starting to learn my system, my drills and the things I like to do. It’s getting easier and I think each and every year it gets better and better, and that’s what we want.”
With the middle school camp finished, elementary school girls can look forward to their time to learn in July.
The elementary school girls camp will run from July 16-19 at the Lansing Elementary School gym.
The camp will cost $50 and is open to any second- through fourth-grade girl. For more information, contact Robinson at christine.robinson@usd469 .net