Men's Wheelchair Update - Summer Camp Preview
With the end of another exciting season of men’s wheelchair intercollegiate basketball, teams now look to regroup and reshape their rosters this summer in hopes of finally taking the championship away from back-to-back national champions UT-Arlington.
Whether attempting to build a dynasty like the Movin’ Mavs or coming off a first tournament win as a program like the CUNY men, the first step is hosting summer camps.
These camps serve as the perfect time for coaches and players to workout with potential recruits, serve the community and gain exposure as they build towards the future.
According to Kellcie Temple, Alabama’s Marketing Director for Adapted Athletics, the camps are “definitely a time where our coaches will just scout who they are thinking about and who they want. We actually also have our newest recruits, our incoming freshman, participate in the camp one last time.”
Temple will be working with head coaches Ford Burttram and Ryan Hynes as they host about 80 campers to Tuscaloosa from June 22nd-25th.
The Crimson Tide’s camp will be about more than just basketball however, with campers going through sessions highlighting crucial off the court aspects of the game such as proper strength training and the importance of hydration, all while being empowered to compete at the highest level.
“I really think our main objective is to just educate these kids about how yes, they have disabilities, but you can also be competitive and just because you have a disability does not mean that high level of competition has to be taken away from you.” Temple said.
Arizona: One of the first camps this summer will be in Tucson, AZ as the Wildcats will host their skill building wheelchair basketball camp from June 15th-18th. Campers will get the opportunity to learn valuable skills from men’s head coach Michael Beardsley, women’s head coach Jose Aslakson as well as several current players looking to sharpen their skills as they try to improve on their 5-5 regular season record from 2021.
Auburn: It’s never too early to start planning for future. That seems to be the theme at Auburn’s summer camp as players as early as sixth grade can attend camp with head coach Robb Taylor from July 18th-22nd.
There, campers will have the opportunity to “participate in skill development drills and games and controlled scrimmages as well as work on skills taught by the staff.”
With high school seniors expected to attend, could this be the place where Taylor and his staff find those one or two players who push the Tigers into the top five of CBT’s power rankings this year?
Eastern Washington: Reese Court will serve as the site for an early summer camp as that will run from July 12th-15th.
Being one of the newer programs in the NWBA makes the summer even more crucial as coach David Evjen and his staff will look to add to the talented duo of Jackson Atwood and Elijah Johnson.
Edinboro University: For the Fighting Scots, there are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and head coach Jim Glatch.
Glatch will be in attendance to start off his 28th season at the head of the program, giving campers the opportunity to pick his brain as they learn the fundamentals of the game from one of wheelchair basketball’s most respected figures.
The three-day camp from August 4th to 7th will provide instruction and game simulations for “wheelchair basketball athletes who want to experience what it’s like to play at the collegiate level.”
Illinois: For a team with a solid foundation of returning players who might need one or two players to round out a championship contending team, this summer’s skills camp might be the turning point for the oldest wheelchair basketball program in the sport.
The “premier” camp on July 5th-9th looks to “present a unique training environment” for those athletes with collegiate and national team aspirations. The team website describes the camp as “small group, high-intensity training program that will go deeper into game strategy and technique.”
This camp has the potential to serve as a recruiting gold mine as coach Matthew Buchi looks to add to the team he described last year as “one of the most talented, if not the most talented groups I’ve ever coached here at Illinois.”
Missouri: For wheelchair athletes looking not only to compete on the collegiate level, but on a national stage as well, there might not be a better person to learn from than Missouri head coach Ron Lykins.
Lykins, who has served as the United States Men’s National Team coach, will have his staff and players present at Mizzu’s camp from July 10-14.
“In order to be good at this game, you have to learn the fundamentals of good team basketball, the stuff we preached with Team USA we try to bring to our campers and players at Mizzou as well,” Lykins said.
The camp focuses on “individual fundamental skill development and strategies in team play.” As campers participate in drills, controlled scrimmages and games.
Southwest Minnesota State: The Mustangs will host their summer camp from July 28th-31st as head coach Derek Klinkner will be kicking off his tenth season.
This year’s camp will bring many 7th to 12th graders to Marshall, MN to learn from Klinkner, his returning players and staff, as they look to teach key fundamentals while providing campers the support of SMSU athletic training staff and training room facilities.
This camp will be the first step for returning players to build following a national tournament last year where the Mustangs put the NWBA on notice with an unexpected postseason run.
Wisconsin-Whitewater: Kachel Fieldhouse will be the site as the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Wheelchair Basketball Camp returns for year 27.
As one of the longest running camps in the NWBA, head coach Andrew Messimer knows he’ll have a ton of talent in attendance from June 22nd-26th.
Despite this, Messimer wants this year’s camp to focus on building the support system around his campers as they continue to compete and grow as athletes.
The camp focuses strongly on allowing current players and campers the chance to form personal relationships with fellow wheelchair players.
“We have kids who may be the only kid at their school that plays wheelchair basketball, so it’s always exciting to see those kids come, connect with our current players and by the end of the camp, get comfortable and come out of their shell a bit,” Messimer said.
While the camps are important for helping a team prepare for the season on the court, they also serve as a way for the wheelchair community to bond and support one another as they are exposed to the next level of wheelchair basketball.
“I think always, the main goal is to train them, grow our sport and physicality and push them to their limit. But to also give athletes that level of competition and athleticism that maybe they didn't think was possible,” Temple said.
These upcoming camps have certainly made one thing clear across the NWBA. Teams are hungry and working hard to be at full strength as the fight for the 2023 National Championship starts in October.
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