Basketball camp

BELVIDERE – Screams, whistles, and the sound of bouncing basketballs echoed through the Belvidere North High School gymnasium the week of Monday, July 6 through Friday, July 10 as children ages of seven to 17 crowded into the gym to participate in the 34th annual Rockford All-Star Basketball Camp for boys and girls.
Children arrived each day at 9:30 a.m. to begin their basketball training. Coaches split the 180 campers into nine different teams based on age, gender, and skill-level.
Director Dale Greenlee, a former captain at the University of Kansas and a member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, emphasized how hard the coaches work to show the children the fundamental techniques that are key for good basketball players and how the coaches show the campers these skills while still having a good time.
“One thing we stress is a family feeling,” Greenlee said. “The coaches and this camp is my extended family. We want to improve the kid’s fundamentals while also teaching them more than basketball.”
“We teach a positive attitude,” Greenlee added. “I always tell kids ‘You can always be a great teammate even if you’re not the best player on the team.”
These ideals draw kids back to the camp year after year. With a supportive staff, kids learn the fundamentals in both offense and defense, including shooting, ball handling, rebounding, drills, game situations along with learning life lessons such as a positive attitude and good sportsmanship.
On Tuesday, July 7, as an added bonus to the camp, children got to meet Chicago basketball great Ronnie Fields who spoke to the campers about how to be a good person on and off the court.
“Ronnie is a friend of mine and he is great with the kids,” Greenlee said.
Afterwards, campers returned to having fun on the court by rotating through different basketball training sessions every 40 minutes. The coaches monitored the activity by mentoring each group with different levels of support and guidance depending on the level of the player.
Each group had four to five coaches watching and assisting players when needed. All of the coaches were dedicated to make sure every child had multiple and equal opportunities to touch the ball and improve their individual skill levels.
Every child worked hard to improve their skills with sweat gleaming across their red faces and a smile that displayed the pride they felt in being able to accomplish each fundamental skill.
All of the happy faces lining the gymnasium were all thanks to the staff of the Rockford All-Star Basketball Camp and the generous local sponsors who helped fund the camp and some of the campers’ fees who could not afford the entire registration fee. Some of the local contributors included John Morrissey Accountants, Chicago Fittings Corporation, Edward’s Apple Orchard, and Lawn Care by Walter out of Cherry Valley.
A few of the children thankful for these contributors include fifth-grader Giovanni Robinson, fourth-grader Kaden Keegan, fifth-grader Zorie Mcnamara,10, sixth-grader Ariana Lee, 13, and fifth-grader KeyonnaHolmon.
All of these children had a blast at the camp.
“When I was playing basketball, I made a shot from half court,” Keegan exclaimed.
“I’m learning a lot of things I didn’t know about basketball before,” Mcnamara said.
On Friday, the fun ended with a bang as each of the children participated in a half-hour performance set to music.
Coach Bill Wilhelmi said that the campers spent most of the time Friday afternoon preparing for the show and that he was so thankful to Belvidere North High School for letting them use the facility all week for their camp.
“We’re so blessed to have a nice facility. Our last one didn’t have air conditioning and this is heaven sent [since BNHS has air conditioning]” Wilhelmi said.
Family members and supportive friends filled the bleachers in the BNHS gymnasium as the campers performed drills, and shooting techniques they had learned throughout the week.
Campers were split into groups based upon age, gender, and skill and each group performed their own unique program set to a variety of different music genres including “Get Your Head in the Game” from High School Musical, and the band Queen’s rendition of “We are the Champions.”
The performance ended with a thank you chant from the campers to the coaches and to the parents in the stands.

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