2007-08-04 / Sports

Youth Boost Skills in Basketball Camp

By Sean Ely

The 2007 basketball camp poses for a photograph Thursday, July 26, at the school gymnasium. South Haven varsity basketball head coach Sam Cornett (far left) and his wife, Rita (far right), hosted the camp for the fifth year in a row. "It's unbelievable to watch them all grow up and progress like they do," Mr. Cornett said. "They just all mature so much every year." Pictured are (back row, from left) Sam Cornett, Anthony Rickley, Ray Lennard, Mark Cornett, Colin Armstrong, Todd Cornett, Tyler Cherwonka, Rita Cornett; (Middle) Shayla Shunk, Jeremy Hepker, Kyle Bailey, Sammy Cornett, Todd Fridline; (Front) Katie Cornett and Courtney Bielinski. Not pictured is Leo Horn. The 2007 basketball camp poses for a photograph Thursday, July 26, at the school gymnasium. South Haven varsity basketball head coach Sam Cornett (far left) and his wife, Rita (far right), hosted the camp for the fifth year in a row. "It's unbelievable to watch them all grow up and progress like they do," Mr. Cornett said. "They just all mature so much every year." Pictured are (back row, from left) Sam Cornett, Anthony Rickley, Ray Lennard, Mark Cornett, Colin Armstrong, Todd Cornett, Tyler Cherwonka, Rita Cornett; (Middle) Shayla Shunk, Jeremy Hepker, Kyle Bailey, Sammy Cornett, Todd Fridline; (Front) Katie Cornett and Courtney Bielinski. Not pictured is Leo Horn. After completing a basketball camp in South Haven, Sam Cornett and his family packed their bags and headed to Mackinac Island for another three-day camp here.

From Tuesday, July 24, to Thursday, July 26, Mr. Cornett, the varsity basketball head coach at South Haven High School, and his wife, Rita, instructed 13 children for three hours each day, teaching them the fundamentals of the game, including shooting, passing and catching, dribbling, cutting through the lane, posting up, defending, and picking-androlling. This is their fifth year on the Island.

Todd Fridline stands in the triple-threat basketball position after receiving a pass Thursday, July 26, at the camp at Mackinac Island Public School, run by Sam and Rita Cornett from South Haven. Todd won a number of trophies for lefthanded dribbling, dribble tag, and free throw shooting. Todd Fridline stands in the triple-threat basketball position after receiving a pass Thursday, July 26, at the camp at Mackinac Island Public School, run by Sam and Rita Cornett from South Haven. Todd won a number of trophies for lefthanded dribbling, dribble tag, and free throw shooting. There was plenty of time for games and competitions, the fun part, which Mr. Cornett said, is the most important aspect of basketball.

"The bottom line is, we just want them to have fun," said Mr. Cornett, who led a Covert High School team to the 2001 Class D state championship before transferring to South Haven. "That's why half of the camp is just contests. It doesn't matter if it is in South Haven or if it is on the Island, we want them to have fun so they will want to continue to play basketball. That's our main goal."

Baskets were lowered from 10 feet to eight feet for the first and second grade students, so they could learn to shoot. Tape on the court marked places for the best shots in competition and for lay-up footwork.

The drills, Mr. Cornett said, are similar to those he uses for varsity basketball practice at South Haven.

Fundamentals apply to everyone, he noted.

"I am doing a lot of the same things as everyone else, just with my personal take on it. At South Haven, we are really strict on the way we do everything, but here, on Mackinac Island, we know the children are going to be coached by somebody else, so we give them the basics, knowing that a particular coaching style could be different than mine."

The Cornetts agree that their students on Mackinac Island are eager to learn.

"There are always going to be kids who want to learn, and kids who don't," Mrs. Cornett said. "Generally, these kids always want to learn, and they come back each year. They even arrive to the gym an hour before the camp starts every day. Nobody is ever late."

Mr. Cornett considers them all close friends of the family.

"It's unbelievable," he said, "to watch them all grow up and progress like they do. They just all mature so much every year."

It takes about seven years to develop a basketball program, Mr. Cornett believes, and when he arrived at South Haven six years ago, he got younger children interested in the game, so they would be ready to compete in high school.

"This year," his wife said, "we will finally start reaping the benefits of kids having played since they were seven years old."

At the camp on Mackinac Island, all the participants received trophies, and additional trophies went to competition winners in such areas as rightand left-handed dribbling, freethrows, and team contests. Anthony Rickley received the camper of the week award for being on time and striving to improve his skills.

For the Cornetts, the Mackinac Island camp serves as a vacation, and their four children, Mark, Todd, Sammy, and Katie, come with them. They like the fudge shops and visiting their Island friends.

"Our kids just love this," Mrs. Cornett said. "They love being in the gym, too, and they are definitely gym rats."

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