In Gainesville ISD’s three-day basketball camp at Gainesville High School, it was a chance for the new head coaches to experience their first taste of basketball in their fresh surroundings.

Head boys basketball coach Jeff Wolf said he was worried about the participation numbers at first, but in the end he was pleasantly surprised.

“When it was 11:20, I wasn’t sure, but then I turned around at 11:30 there were 40-plus kids,” Wolf said. “That was somewhat of a relief that basketball seems to be important to the kids. They wanted to come. It looked liked the kids wanted to learn and wanted to be here. It wasn’t like parents were pushing them to be here.”

Wolf said he noticed some familiar faces from previous camps and he said he was encouraged by the kids’ enthusiasm.

“Just like if you have one sport, it can carry over to another sport and success in one aspect of the school can lead to success to another,” Wolf said. “I did hear other parents saying their kids tried baseball and they liked it, so they tried basketball. That’s great. It’s not like turning on a light switch. You have to work hard.”

Head girls basketball coach Shaun Weaver said she thought it was by far the best group of kids she had run a camp with.

“I just love the support from the parents and them believing in what we are trying to establish here,” Weaver said. “It was a great turnout. They came in focused and ready to go without knowing how we run things. I like the way we had it designed with both of us being new. We got our different coaching styles worked in with several different drills.”

Wolf and Weaver divided up the kids into groups with Wolf focusing on offense and Weaver stressing defense.

“I did dribbling and ball handling and coach Wolf did shooting, so we kept them more with their age groups,” Weaver said. “You have to tone it down some to the younger kids. We were able to coach harder with other groups. We also worked on defensive footwork while Wolf worked on rebounding and blocking out.”

Wolf’s coaching philosophy for the high school team will be rebounding and that wasn’t any different on Monday.

“The big thing on rebounding is not so much if you miss it, but I want them to catch the ball before it hits the ground,” Wolf said. “In the drills, if they shoot and miss, they can keep on going if it doesn’t hit the ground. We also worked on shooting.”

While the coaches wanted to split their focuses, Wolf said the skills they were teaching apply to all ages.

“Everything is always a work in progress,” Wolf said. “I did like how they bought into doing what they wanted to do and having fun at the same time. Basketball is the same from kindergarten to an NBA player. You still have to be able to rebound and pass. Some of the same drills we’d do with the kindergartener, we’d do with our varsity players.”

Wolf said before the camp that he hoped the main aspect the kids took away was having fun. He said he saw smiles on kids’ faces and that he was impressed with the coaches’ excitement and how it transferred to the kids.

Weaver was excited to meet all the new coaches and said they were all like a big family. More than that, she said she couldn’t wait to connect further and build trust with the local community.

“The impact we left, I think they understand that it’s going to be fun as well as knowledgeable, but at the same time they know we’re putting in work,” Weaver said. “When it comes to camp, I’m very excited. We now know the numbers so it makes implementing drills easier.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip

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