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The Press Box: School’s Out

By Randy Rutherford - Sports Writer | Jun 2, 2021

It’s that time of year. The refreshing early spring weather has blossomed into the full, hot, humid heat of early summer. It won’t be long until we hear the final run of school buses packed with sweaty kids counting down the last few days of the remaining school year. Memorial Day is upon us. Traditional end of the year school parties bump into kid’s day dreams of staying up late and sleeping in, and long summer days spent swimming at the pool and trips to the Dairy Queen for ice cream. That’s a kid’s perfect plan for summer vacation.

All kids deserve a summer vacation, especially after the year they and their teachers (heroes in my book) have just endured. I’ve got great memories of lining up with my friends outside the Sistersville Pool waiting for opening day. All you needed was a dollar and your towel. That was enough money to buy your way in and get a paper cup of pop and a package of crackers. If I ever wore sunscreen I don’t remember. My buddy, Paul Howlett, reminded me about seeing people, mostly grownups, with a large silver numbered safety pin attached to their swimsuit. That meant they had a metal basket with a corresponding number to keep their valuables safe in the bathhouse behind the counter. We never used them. Our safety method was to hide our change under the corner of our towel. Worked like a charm.

What about this summer for our kids? Thankfully the pool will be opening this year. That is a wonderful benefit for our community that has been providing service since its beginning back in the early 60s. My wife has been working with other pool board members and city employees trying diligently to get it in top condition after a summer off during the pandemic. She has shared with me how hard the city crew works in 90 degree heat prepping the pool surface for opening. All the years enjoying the pool as a kid, I never knew the amount of effort it takes from Russell Weekley and his crew to make it happen each year. Working parents and caregivers depend on the healthy benefits the pool offers to kids in the summer. Luckily, our communities and their youth serving organizations rally to provide many “free days” so everyone can participate in the fun. Thank you to all those hard working folks that make it possible!

But what about kids and sports during vacation months? Summer can be a time of dormant activity for sports because many teams are no longer in-season. With no structured sports through the school or travel teams, parents often are looking for the next best alternative. Usually summer sport camps fill the void and drench kids in particular skill developments for their chosen sport. But it can be a fun time for beginners, too. They get the chance to try on the basic skills of a sport and determine if it is something they want to pursue once the season begins. Camps are a win-win for everyone!

In recent history, Paden City enjoyed the reputation of being home to a popular basketball camp organized by former well known coaches Bob Burton and Fred King. The Annual B&K Basketball Camp ran for 28 years or more and was attended by over 100 campers each season. Included were instructional drills in ball handling, passing, shooting and rebounding. Offense and defense techniques were taught. The newest technology was used offering “video tapes” on hand to help as instructional guides. Campers also enjoyed a number of contests designed to sharpen their basketball skills. This is classic camp framework is the kind that guarantees kids’ success.

But the pandemic has had an impact on the availability of sport camps in our area. I reached out to area high schools and youth sport groups to see what was on tap in our area. Unfortunately, there isn’t a large volume of camps available, but I have tried to gather the camps that we know about now and share the important information. Hopefully some more will become available as the summer season moves forward. If you know of a camp I missed, please email or call. We want to list all the available opportunities for our kids this summer.

SilverStar Group Ltd. will not be offering camps this summer, but are planning for camps in 2022. On the bright side, SilverStar does have some exciting news to share. Mandy Fetty and family have once again been gracious enough to team up with SilverStars and host volleyball clinics this summer at the Middlebourne Stealey-Green Center. Clinics will be held June 1, June 8, June 22, July 6, July 20, and July 27. Girls who will be entering grades 3-5 this fall will have sessions 6-7:30pm, girls who will be entering grades 6-8 will have sessions 7:30-9:00pm. Participants can pay at the door, prices are $5/per session or $20 for all seven. Please message SilverStar Group Ltd. on their Facebook page with any questions.

2021 Tycon Knights Spring Camp will be held from 6:00 to 8:00pm on June 8th, 10th, 14th, 15th and 17th. It is for all Tyler County students entering preschool through 6th grade for the upcoming year. Football campers will go over basic football drills and learn the importance of each position. Cheerleader campers will work on jumps, cheers and formations. Everyone is welcome even if you can only attend one evening. It is a great way to learn about both football and cheerleading, and make new friends along the way while having a lot of fun. Best news for moms and dads, there is no charge to attend. The location is yet to be determined. For more information please contact the Tycon Knights on their Facebook page and message Eric Mason, Sarah Smith or Laura Roberts.

Tusculum Volleyball camp at Tyler Consolidated High School will once again return by popular demand. Camp is scheduled Monday, July 26th through Thursday, July 29th. It is open for interested campers entering grades 4 through 8 and held at Tyler Consolidated Gymnasium. Camp Director, Danielle Marante, recently completed her second season as the Head Coach at Tusculum University, where she led them to their winningest season since 2014. Prior to coming to Tusculum, she spent two seasons on the women’s volleyball staff at Marshall University. Since Coach Marante began directing the Tusculum Volleyball camp at Tyler Consolidated, the camp has shown consistent growth. Her knowledge of the game and ability to relate to young people has led to campers coming back from several counties and even from outside of the state. This camp is limited to 40 campers. For costs and registration information please email Tracy Summers at tsummers@k12.wv.us.

One of the best benefits of camp is giving your athlete exposure to valuable mentors. This experience helps them develop trust, self-esteem and a sharper competitive advantage. When high school athletes serve as camp counselors, younger kids that follow high school sports often know team players by their name and number. What a thrill it is to get to spend time with one of their local heroes while honing the skills for a sport they love. My son Troy attended camps like this when he was in grade school, and worked them while he was an athlete in high school. To this day they are some of the best memories he has from growing up in Grand Haven.

Whatever sport your child chooses to embrace, summer camps can serve as a great launch pad for discovery. Kids will learn new techniques while reviewing common drills. Camps will provide consistent play which is the best way for kids to improve skills, and they learn hard work pays off while still having fun. After all, it is summer vacation!