Krystal Smith and members of her White Pine High School Ladycats basketball team and softball team have been busy during their summer vacation. Rather than taking time off from the basketball court and softball diamond, the Ladycats, along with Smith’s coaching staff, have been working to help the next generation to put the “fun” in fundamentals.
“This year we put on our traditional softball and basketball camps to give the kids an opportunity to interact with our high school girls who I think are so influential in a positive way,” Smith said.
The WPHS head basketball and softball coach said that the coaching staff took a different approach to how they ran their third annual summer youth basketball camp, splitting the children participants into younger and older groups so they could better focus on different aspects of the game. the three-day camp held at David E. Norman Elementary School hosted children from kindergarten through fourth grade and featured lowered basketball hoops and a smaller gymnasium. Fifth through eighth
graders attended an evening camp at the high school gym and worked on more “intermediate to advanced skills” according to the coach.
“It gave the campers more individual attention from the coaching staff with the smaller groups of kids and so it really helped differentiate what we wanted to teach to the kids,” Smith said of the separate camps.
The result was the best turnout the camp has seen since Smith began running it, with over 50 kids participating.
The coach also tried a new approach to how she ran the youth softball camps, changing the format from one three-day camp to three individual one day camps, each focusing on different skill sets. The change again allowed for her coaching staff and volunteer student athletes to hone their focus each day.
The student athletes that Smith coaches during the regular high school season proved to be almost a bigger draw for the kids to the camps than learning the skills themselves. After winning the Division III Girl’s Basketball State Championship last season, Smith said that many of the kids in the basketball camp wanted autographs from the members of the championship team that were volunteering their time to help run the camps. Seeing that, as well as seeing more and more people around town sporting Ladycat gear, showed to Smith that her athletes are becoming more than just winners, they are becoming role models.
“It was really cool to see them get the opportunity to be the stars so to speak in a community where the younger girls are looking up to them,” Smith said.
That aspect of the students being the star also plays into what Smith calls one of her favorite parts about the camps, which is the “motivational speaker” section. At the end of each camp day, one of Smith’s student athletes gets to read a speech they prepared to the kids in attendance, ranging in topics from how to be a better teammate to more specific skill positions.
In addition to hosting camps, Smith also attended a basketball coaching camp at Stanford University, one of the top girls college basketball programs in the country.