Editors Note: Intern Adam Lamont wrote this post.
Bob Hurley, a basketball Hall of Fame Coach and winner of more than 1,000 games as the coach of St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey, cracks a smile as a 5th grader correctly identifies the four main characters of the iconic show Seinfeld. So begins each day of the Bob Hurley Kids Camp: not with an overly intense speech about ‘synergy,’ but with an interactive session of trivia to awake the mind. The questions run the gamut, but the one common thread throughout is Seinfeld. Although none of the campers were even born by the time the Seinfeld finale aired (did I just make you feel old?), they were able to answer almost every question Hurley posed.
Hurley refers to the topics he asks about as minutiae, mostly useless information that serves little purpose, but there is a method to the madness. He puts kids on the spot, quizzing them on summer reading and holding them accountable for knowing more than a simple title. The lessons here are subtle but important. Hurley, who has raised two sons to follow in his footsteps, is someone who has dedicated his entire professional career to basketball. Yet basketball is not the only thing in his life. Hurley, who has volunteered to run this camp for the past 8 years, is a longtime member of the Shooting Touch Board of Directors. He understands that the camp and the game of basketball are about much more than being the best player possible. And the minutiae, while perceived useless at face value, are still important in the aggregate. Right from the beginning, the Bob Hurley Kids Camp shows that it is not like any other sports camp.
Last week’s Shooting Touch Bob Hurley Kids camp was the 8th annual running of the camp at the prestigious Roxbury Latin School. Hurley has run the camp each year in his own unique style, leaving campers not only better basketball players but also better people. Alongside Hurley is Coach Brian Holden, the Head Coach at Archbishop Williams in Braintree and Camp Director, who headed the coaching staff made up of Boston area players and coaches. Shooting Touch runs the camp primarily to provide Boston area youth the chance to get coached by a legend like Bob Hurley, but the camp achieves even more than that. The week is also an integral part of our fundraising strategy, helping to support our programs both domestic and abroad.
The summer sports camp is now a staple of life for American youth. Parents are always looking for something to occupy their children during the day, and kids are always trying to stay active while also improving their game. Yet nowadays camps are expensive so if you can’t pay, you can’t play. Shooting Touch is built on the premise of ensuring that every child has a right to be active and have access to high quality sports programming. So while the camp is not free for everyone, those who are unable to pay are able to attend the camp for free through the Chuck Kittredge Scholarship Fund or Jonathan Dos Santos Fund. Shooting Touch works with specific local coaches to find the kids who will benefit from and contribute to the camp. This year we are proud to announce an all time high number of scholarships granted with a total of 40 attending the camp free of charge. To qualify for a scholarship, each child must come from a low income household and write a handwritten letter highlighting why they are interested in attending the camp.
I was fortunate enough to help out with the camp earlier this summer, setting up, doing some coaching, and even running around to pick up lunch for the campers. The daily schedule of the camp was jam packed, and I have to give credit to the kids and coaches who had just as much energy on the final day as they did the first. Coach Hurley stressed that the summer is a time for the campers to explore and expand their basketball skills and to try things they normally would not. Coaches, volunteering from local schools and universities like the Middlesex School and Providence College, split up the campers into three different age groups (3rd and 4th graders, 5th and 6th graders, and 7th-9th graders) and then divided kids up even further into teams for small group work. The teams were all are a mixture of city and suburban kids coming together from different backgrounds and getting to know each other through their common language: basketball.
Mornings focused on building individual skill sets and creating a better understanding of team concepts like spacing and help-defense. The camper to coach ratio was less than 5:1 meaning that every kid was able to get in-depth instruction on all parts of their game. These morning session put an emphasis on one-on-one instruction between the campers and camp instructors. After Coach Hurley would demonstrate the drills, he would methodically walk from court to court, assisting individual players and coaches.
Afternoons began each day with a guest speaker who concentrated on one specific aspect of basketball that is integral to their program. This year the speakers were Milton Academy head coach Lamar Reddicks who taught drills players could use to refine their offensive game, Bentley Womens’ basketball assistant coach C White, who went all-out on how to improve your dribbling, and Nobles Athletic Director and Girls’ basketball head coach Alex Gallagher who got tough on defense and drove home the importance of creating a family on the court. The talks gave the campers an opportunity to listen in-depth to coaches who are experts in that particular field and ask them pointed questions. The coaches also shared their personal stories with basketball citing its importance in making them who they are as a person. Though it was our honor to host them, all of the coaches expressed their appreciation for speaking at the Hurley Camp because of the high caliber of coaches and campers. Following each speaker, Coach Hurley turned the intensity back up, leading another session of in-depth drills before the day ended with a game where everything learned during the day was put into action during competitive play between groups.
I am proud to say that on the last day of camp two of my players I worked closely with won awards: one for best playmaker and the other for most improved. Both, who are from Lawrence and attended the camp on scholarship, were some of the hardest working kids on my team. I was especially happy that the one player received the most improved player award because he was always trying to get better and asking for advice, just as Hurley instructs them. On the last day of camp this player had by far his best game, showcasing his athletic ability and newly refined skills. What was most impressive was how hard he was working during the game and the huge smile he had after because he knew how well he and his teammates had played. All of this was made possible because of the Scholarships through Shooting Touch.
At any non-profit, there is a means and an end to the work. But for Shooting Touch the means and the end often become intertwined. In the case of the Hurley camp, the purposes of the camp are multiple. First, the camp provides high quality basketball and life instruction to area youth. Second, said instruction is available regardless of ability, neighborhood, or family financial status through our Scholarship Funds. Third, the proceeds from the camp go directly to Shooting Touch and help fund our programs in Boston and Rwanda which serve over 3000 youth a year. Obviously, in many ways the camp is both a means and an end to achieving Shooting Touch’s mission of using basketball to inspire and educate youth around the world. Thanks to Coach Hurley and Coach Holden for all their work in making this camp another massive success.
If you wish to learn more about the Coach Hurley Kids Camp or how to get involved with Shooting Touch visit our website at www.shootingtouch.org.