LAPEER — A three-day girls’ basketball camp filled the Lapeer High gym with the sound of multiple bouncing balls Tuesday morning when camp opened to almost two dozen young girls and the Lapeer varsity players serving as camp counselors. New Lapeer High coach Evan Bell and varsity assistant/JV head coach Michael Allan were using a series of drills combined with fun races and contests to get their points across as they taught newcomers and some players with a little experience the fine points of basketball.
Bell, not unlike many coaches in the area this summer, spoke of building the program top to bottom.
“I hope this camp gives the girls a positive experience of playing basketball in our program,” Bell said. “My goal is to create a unified program where every girl feels valued and invested in. Our high school girls will begin developing that connection with the youth at this camp and our coaches will provide instruction and resources to empower each girl to be the best basketball player they can be.”
Fundamentals were the focus of the camp as this was a golden opportunity to not just teach the new players, but those who may have picked up some bad habits or wrong form.
“My varsity assistant/JV head coach Michael Allan and I will be teaching the girls concepts, skills, and mindsets we expect in our program,” noted Bell. “The girls will practice fundamental drills needed to be a successful basketball player. These include dribbling, ball handling, shooting, man defense, passing, and rebounding. Girls will learn our read/react offense and man defense, while at camp.”
A slow and methodical approach using repetition was key at the camp. Bell spoke to the specifics that many players struggle with; aspects he and Allan focused on at camp.
“The skills girls across the program have struggled with are primarily offensive: shooting form, dribbling with both hands, catching passes, etc.,” explained Bell. “To correct this trajectory, the youth will be exposed to foundational dribbling, shooting, and passing drills to empower them to execute these skills at the high school level. The concepts of spacing the floor, moving without the ball, attacking space, and playing help man defense will be introduced to the girls now, so we can expand on their knowledge at the high school level.”
Keenly aware that when kids get frustrated, they get bored and check out and often quit a sport, Bell and Allan injected a lot of fun into camp. It tested both the experienced varsity counselors and the young campers.
“An essential aspect of our program is accepting imperfection,” stressed Bell. “When kids have to be perfect they become overwhelmed and mentally frustrated. I remind the girls they are free to make mistakes because mistakes are how we learn. I celebrate the small victories the girls have on the court and remind them to reflect on what they did well,” Bell detailed. “Whether it’s taking an open shot, using a retreat dribble, staying positive when they make a mistake, if they celebrate their progress, they will enjoy the game more. Girls enjoy competition, so we try to create as many drills as we can where the girls can compete with each other at practice.”
Bell also added that as far as the varsity program that he is taking over, parents and players are buying in.
“The students and parents have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the changes I have made this summer and the students have been receptive to my new ideas and coaching strategies,” Bell said. “Our goal as a program is to empower our young women to be successful in life and know their value. This season is all about earning respect, hard work, and restoring pride in our program together as a community. I am confident if we all buy into this vision and remain resilient, we can create experiences that change the lives of everyone involved in the program.”