RIPLEY – The sounds of summer can now include bouncing basketballs inside of the Ripley Health Center gymnasium at Ripley High School. The Ripley youth league basketball camp has been taking place all week, giving area children the opportunity to build and hone their basketball skills. Over 90 campers ages 5-14 have been working hard all week, with the help of both Ripley High School head boys basketball coach Evan Faulkner and head girls basketball coach John Kennedy and several of their assistants and players.
“The campers have been amazing,” Kennedy said earlier this week, “Without the support of the community and the parents, none of this is possible. Each and every camper worked hard at the stations and competitions.”
The camp was split into two sections: a morning session for the Young Viking camp, for boys and girls ages 5-9 and then an afternoon session for older players ages 10-14. Campers were drilled on the fundamentals for the first part of the week, with more and more layers added as the week has progressed. However, it was the excitement in the faces of the campers that had the counselors beaming.
“To see the excitement and commitment from these up and coming future Vikings made the coaching staff extremely proud,” Kennedy said, “Our culture and attitude about Ripley basketball has already started to change in these few short months since we took over.”
The camp also included some guest speakers, including former Ripley coach Randy Anderson. The counselors asked “Coach A” to speak on Monday, and he noted that although he wears different colors now, he will always bleed blue and white. Additionally, he instilled what he called “blue heat” into the campers and counselors, which can only be seen when the fans come out to watch the Vikings play.
“I couldn’t think of a better person to jump start this camp,” Kennedy said regarding Anderson, “He got us believing in the Charleston Civic Center [as the goal] when I played for him and just like old times, that’s what he’s still preaching to the boys and girls.”
With the week winding down, the camp will wrap up tomorrow with final competitions and awards. The turnout and commitment shown by the campers assured a high level of skill and competition in the final events. The conclusion of the camp, along with the effort given by the campers, has the counselors excited for the future of Viking basketball.
“Our counselors did a great job with the campers and built a foundation and a relationship with the youth that will benefit Viking basketball for years to come,” Kennedy concluded, “I would like to thank the Ripley youth league and many more who are behind the scenes for giving us the support to run such a successful camp.”