Sports Basketball

Basketball camps run July 25-29 and Aug. 1-5 at Georgian College in Barrie

By Stephen Sweet, Special to Postmedia Network

Registration is now open for the Next Level Hoops summer basketball camps at Georgian College. The boys camp will be held July 25-29, with a co-ed camp to follow from Aug. 1-5. SUBMITTED

Registration is now open for the Next Level Hoops summer basketball camps at Georgian College. The boys camp will be held July 25-29, with a co-ed camp to follow from Aug. 1-5. SUBMITTED

The hoops season doesn't end when the Toronto Raptors are done.

There have been a number of quality basketball programs already running and set to take place this summer.

Next Level Hoops has been covering the bases, providing quality sessions for kids in any grade.

“Every Sunday morning, we've had two different programs running,” said Scott Seeley, one of the Next Level directors. “We've had a Jr. NBA program for kids in Grades 1-2, and it's facilitated through the NBA, and it's an introductory program to get kids enjoying basketball, learning the skills, the rules and making sure that their first basketball experience is a positive one.

“The next step is our Steve Nash youth program for kids in Grades 3-8, which is developed by Canada Basketball,” Seeley added. “That's the program for grassroots development and each session is about skills and athletic development before playing a variety of 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games.

“Having modified equipment and rules that suit these players is important, so everything is the right size and appropriate for each age level,” Seeley added.

With the popularity of the sport continuing to rise, it seemed like a natural time to add these programs to the annual spring-and-summer slate put forward by a group of local teachers and former Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-stars.

“We just felt like, with the success of the Raptors and the Canadian national team, that there's a huge demand for more basketball programs that hasn't been serviced in the area,” said Seeley, a former team MVP with Lakehead University. “We wanted to offer this and get as many kids playing as possible.”

One of the key ideas of running the Jr. NBA program, which promotes basketball through fun, active games, is to give young kids another sports option a little ahead of what the schedule usually provides in Canada.

“Typically, soccer and hockey are the sports the kids are playing when they're four to five years old,” Seeley said. “Basketball, traditionally, usually started when they were seven, so there's a two-year window where those other sports had a head start.

“The athletes will enjoy that and just stick with those, rather than try something new.”

All of the equipment for the Jr. NBA program, as well as the younger half of the Steve Nash program, is modified to their size.

“The Jr. NBA has a ball that's appropriate for their hand size in that it's smaller and lighter, and the hoops are put down to seven feet, so they can actually get it in the hoop,” Seeley said. “The practice itself is very fun and games-based, with a lot of athletic movement.”

With the older group, the setup is there to allow for smaller games and therefore more possession time for each player.

“With the Nash program, we use an age-appropriate ball as well, and lower the hoops a little bit for the younger ages,” Seeley said. “We play three-on-three or four-on-four, so that each player handles the ball more and there's more spacing on the floor, so they have more room to work with and chances to be successful.”

Those ages are also eligible to take part in their annual summer camp, which will happen once again at Georgian College.

There are two weeks of the program, with a boys (July 25-29) and co-ed (Aug. 1-5) session.

“Kids entering Grade 3-10 can sign up,” Seeley said. “Every year, there's just more and more kids.

“We've got a handful of spots left in each camp, so we're well on our way to sell out both weeks again.”

The players are divided up based on their age and abilities, so athletes of any level or basketball experience are welcome.

There will also be a guest instructor one morning, as former Canadian National Team member and current London Lightning (of the National Basketball League of Canada) head coach Kyle Julius will be taking the players through some drills.

For the basketball players-turned-teachers, this program is a big highlight of their summer.

“We work hard to put together the camp and try to give the kids the best possible experience, but with that said, it's fun as well,” Seeley said. “We were all basketball players who went to summer camps that people put on for us and now, we can support them and push them and give them a fun experience like we had when we were younger.”

To register for the Next Level Hoops summer camp, visit nextlevelhoops.ca, e-mail nextlevelbballcamp@gmail.com or call 705-717-6449.

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