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Camp sharpens skills on basketball court



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July 24, 2013 - BY ANDREW MILLER

Special to The Clarkston News

The Clarkston boys' basketball program is known to have players who are hardworking, dedicated, and willing to put in the extra effort to be the best.

This type of mentality is one of the reasons why the varsity basketball team is successful, winning 19 straight district titles from 1992-2011.

In the hottest week of the summer so far, 80 athletes ranging from 7th-9th grade were present at Clarkston High School last week for the Fife Basketball Camp ready to put in the work. It became easy to see why Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball Head Coach Dan Fife's players are continuously the hardest working in the state.

With the temperature outside reaching into the 90's, and the gym adding extra degrees all week, it didn't stop any of the kids from wanting to learn and improve their skills.

"I asked them in the beginning of the day how many of them would like to go in the pool at the end," said Fife. "None of them raised their hands. They all wanted to stay in the gym and play basketball."

The heat was so intense in the gym, they had Clarkston's trainer Stephanie LeBeau working full time at the camp and had a thermostat to measure the heat of the gym. Every time the gym reached over 99.9 degrees they took a ten minute break to make sure the kids didn't overheat.

The camp goes on year after year, and its continued success has brought in athletes from Clarkston and the rest of the Midwest, and some even further.

"While around 80 percent of the kids are from Clarkston, we also have kids from around the country," said Fife. "We have kids from Waterford, Holly, Lapeer, Saline, Illinois, Ohio, New York, and we have a player here from Dubai."

It is easy to see why so many athletes are drawn to the camp with the great balance between improving skill sets and having fun.

"We work on a lot of fundamentals in the morning," said Fife. "The kids all want to play games right away, but it's important to go through and build the fundamentals. We have a lot of stations that focus on specific skills and teach them the right way."

Working the camp with Fife and teaching the kids are a mixture of his own coaching staff, and alumni who are playing in college.

"When we get guys like Brandon Pokley and Jordan Clark, who are college athletes, it shows the kids what they are working towards," said Fife.

For the second half of the day, the focus shifts towards activities and games with the 1-on-1 competition, a 3-on-3 tournament, a hotshot round where they try and make as many buckets in a certain amount of times, and a knockout round after lunch.

"After lunch we shift to more games and competitions which always gets the kids energized," said Fife. "Plus the winner of the knockout round wins five bucks so they're all suddenly going all out."

Along with basketball the camp gives the athletes a chance to show off their other skills, like who is the best dancer.

Every day after lunch there was a dance-off, where Ben Spiker won early in the week with his dougie-ing ability.

Spiker's reign was short lived however when Shaun Slater broke out a crab dance in the finals the next day to take the title from Spiker.

"There are 33 hours total in this camp the kids put in." said Fife. "It's important they work hard and learn as much as they can. They also have to enjoy themselves and want to play the game."

The boys will able to put their skills to the test in November when the boys basketball winter season begins.

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