By Ray Hamill — Gene Cotter would be proud.
His Basketball Jones Hoop Camps return to the North Coast next week, with the first of four camps scheduled for this summer taking place at South Fork High School.
Founded by the local basketball legend in 1996, the Basketball Jones camps stress fundamentals, selflessness and the team concept, and they are high energy and hosted in the spirit of how Cotter played the game and the passion he brought to the court.
Basketball Jones will also hold camps at Fortuna Middle School later this month and at McKinleyville Middle School and Arcata High in July.
And, according to the association’s Operations Director Ace Koski, interest in the Fortuna camp has been through the roof, with all 130 places selling out quickly.
“It was incredible,” Koski said. “In no time we were sold out.”
The Basketball Jones camps returned to the North Coast with three camps last summer and the association is looking to build on that going forward, with an additional camp in McKinleyville in 2023.
The camps are for kids aged 6-15 and for all levels of players, and they emphasize developing a love for the game in much the same way Cotter envisioned it when he established Basketball Jones.
“Passion, purpose and positivity is a good motto to live your life by and I know we give that to all of these kids,” association Northern Regional Director Gordie Hunt said. “We teach basketball and so many life lessons to build relationships with people.”
Next week’s camp will be free of charge and is “a benefit event for the youth of Southern Humboldt, sponsored by the Live Like Geno Foundation,” according to Basketball Jones.
It will feature several high school volunteers who will help coach the young players.
“We feel like it’s a worthy cause for sure,” Hunt said. “A lot of students need a positive role model and we can provide that, and I know the economy has taken a hit everywhere.”
The camps seem to be well received since their post-COVID return, especially in Fortuna, where the interest has skyrocketed from a year ago with almost double the number of participants this summer.
Camp organizers, however, are not surprised with the interest.
“I think it’s the program we’re providing, mixed with a community that really loves the sport and understands the power of community and what coaches can provide,” Hunt said.
There are plenty of places still available for both the McKinleyville and Arcata camps, although judging by the interest in Fortuna any interested players might want to sign up early.
“We had a great camp in Arcata last year,” Hunt said. “It was super positive.”
Local basketball coach Dusty Scofield will be a guest speaker at this year’s Arcata camp, and all the association camps feature “incredible coaches,” according to Koski.
Click here for more information on all the Basketball Jones Hoopa Camps.