Basketball, lax teams compete at camps
Area athletes participate in drills at Pope John
Pope John XXIII Regional High School basketball coach John Slackman instructs players.
Pope John basketball player Kiersten Librizzi. The junior is a basketball camp counselor.
From left Pope John basketball player Abby Moore. The senior is a basketball camp counselor.
Lacrosse players perform pushups.
Fourteen-year-old Sara Graham of Franklin, NJ, soars as she shoots the ball.
Fourteen-year-old Emma Sullivan of Denville, NJ, shoots the ball.
Pope John XXIII Regional High School basketball coach Paul Breheny instructs players.
BY GEORGE LEROY HUNTER
SPARTA — Area athletes took part in lacrosse and basketball camps at Pope John XXIII Regional High School on Thursday, July 31.
The Sparta school is hosting numerous summer sports camps during the months of July and August.
Lacrosse, basketball, tennis, soccer and field hockey are among the camps conducted at the high school. Athletes can hone their skills in their respective sports while having fun at the same time. Pope John coaches along with varsity athletes were on hand to teach the fundamentals players will need to function at an optimal level in competition.
"I think the camp benefits the girls coming from all over to see Pope John XXIII Regional and interact with the members of the school girls basketball team," Pope John basketball coach and basketball camp director John Slackman said. "The camp participants can also play with other athletes from other towns, make new friends. They can learn and have fun on the court. During the course of the day we start out by stretching then doing different stations that pertain to different aspects of the game such as dribbling, shooting, defense [and] passing. Afterwards we play scrimmages."
"One thing I especially like about our camp is we have current players from the school roster as counselors. The older girls can relate to the younger girls and share their experiences," Slackman said. "Some of our counselors were basketball camp participants years ago. It's a very good environment for all involved."
Coach Slackman along with Pope John junior varsity basketball coach Paul Breheny and the counselors put the camp players through the paces.
Some of the camp players will be enrolled at Pope John XXIII Regional High School when they get older. Coach Slackman a South Orange, New Jersey, native who also manages Hoop Heaven in Whippany, was asked about that and said, "The future looks bright for the Pope John Lady Lions because I see some talent on the court here today. It's something we can build our program on. We always hear about the Pope John boys but the Pope John girls are coming."
While basketball players were honing their skills on the hardwood lacrosse players were out on the football field.
Pope John lacrosse varsity head coach Chris Hoffman was overseeing players in drills. The Rutgers University graduate was also padded up and joined in the action on the field.
He is a hands-on type of coach. Hoffman shouted orders and made adjustments during scrimmages. Hoffman just completed an 11-8-0 season record leading the Lions. With the next lacrosse season far away, Hoffman was asked about the benefits of the summer lacrosse camp.
"It's never too early for practice," he said. "It's good to get out and see your teammates and work out with them and push each other in the offseason. We are focusing on stick work, catching and throwing on the run. You got to know how to cradle the ball and pass the ball while you are moving. That is a high level skill that we teach.
Summer sports camps such as the ones at Pope John can not only instill athletic skills in young athletes but also prepare them for life beyond sports. Leadership skills, learning to function in a team atmosphere and practicing good sportsmanship can go a long way in life.
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