About 50 girls gathered at the Southington High School gym to take part in their last day of the Blue Knights Girls’ Basketball Clinic on Friday, June 26. From hot pink windbreaker pants to matching highlighter sneakers, socks, and shorts, the campers ranged in age from third grade to incoming high school freshmen. The camp started on Monday and went from 8:30 in the morning to noon. After taking over the program in 2010, Southington Lady Knights Coach Mike Forgione has been running the camp for five years now, since the summer of 2011.
On the first day of camp, the girls were split up into six groups of eight, each having their own counselor.
Some of the offensive drills the campers did included speed dribbling, ball handling, and form shooting. The shell drill (on-the-ball defense) and boxing out were some of the drills campers participated in on the defensive side of the ball. Besides drills to expose skills and technique, Forgione also threw in some fun as well, having the campers compete in games and contests like “Hotshot,” “Thunder,” or “Knockout.” In Hotshot, you take a foul line jump shot and if you make it, you get two points. If you miss, you can still make a layup for one point. You are only given a minute to try and make most of the shots and layups you take. Thunder has the same concept as Hotshot, only you’re with a partner. Standing on an elbow on the court with your partner, the object is to get to the money basket. If you win on the money basket, you stay, but if you lose, you rotate around to other baskets to try and get back to the money basket. Although they are games, Forgione said he not only sees them as fun, but as competition too.
“The kids just love that competition,” said Forgione. “Basketball is a game that you have constant offenses and defenses. There are really no breaks. You’re going from one to the other. You’re going to be getting knocked down, but you have to get up. Just the idea of competing and never quitting is something that we try to emphasize in the different contests that we do throughout the week.”
Forgione said that he tries to stress how important foul shots and layups can be in a game. He has his campers take part in foul shooting contests, as well as alternate between right and left-handed layups repeatedly in the “Mikan Drill.” The kids count how many layups they can make in a minute.
Forgione said that one of the main goals of the camp were to give the girls different drills that they can do on their own.
“That’s kind of my big theme for the week,” said Forgione. “Take the things that you’ve learned and these are things that you can practice, whether you’re by yourself or maybe with a brother, sister, or friend. Basketball’s a game where you have to put that work in outside of being in a practice or a camp. Hopefully the girls took what we taught them and are working on their own to get better.”
Another goal of the camp is to have the elementary and middle school girls interact and work with the camp counselors throughout the week. The counselors were some of the returning, high school varsity players on the Lady Knights basketball team.
“I know the kids really love seeing them, being around them, and getting to know them some more,” said Forgione. “We see a lot of the girls come to our home games, especially during our season. It’s for the high school girls to get to know them a little better.”
Forgione said that he wants to the campers to continue to enjoy the game and have fun with basketball.
“It’s a great sport and it’s something that my players and I have a lot of passion for,” said Forgione. “We teach them that there’s a lot of work involved, but there’s also a lot of fun. Hopefully they’ll take that and continue to get better and have fun along the way.”
Forgione went on to say that he felt like they accomplished those three goals during the week at camp.
Photos by BRIAN JENNINGS