Summer camps help build basketball culture
August 03, 2011 - It was another successful summer of basketball camps for Oxford High School boys basketball coach Paul Marfia.
"I love it," he said. "We have a gym open, we have kids playing basketball, we have my high school kids working with them, building relationships with them and high-fiving them. Who wouldn't be happy with that."
During the summer, Marfia holds two different camps for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. The first is a fundamental camp in the first week of June for all ages, which is followed by "Summer Slam."
"It's more of a scrimmage situation. I want the kids to play more because hopefully they did the fundamentals in the beginning (of June), they have been working on them in the driveway all summer long, and this is the end of the summer, so let's play and have fun," Marfia said.
"Summer Slam" is geared towards students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Sixty-eight campers attended the fundamental camp this year, an increase of 18 from last year. Marfia had a total of 38 campers for "Summer Slam," four more than last year.
He added he's slowly starting to see the basketball culture change.
"I can gradually and slowly see it happen. We started to get some of these veterans back we've now had for two, three summers and you can start to see them play and do the stuff we want them to do," he said.
According to Marfia, he is hoping to showcase good basketball to the community through the camps.
"Your kid is going to be well coached, he is going to be in a safe environment, he is going to have fun and is going to learn the skills," Marfia said. "We are trying to build a program and have the parents of the community understand as a varsity coach, I am a K-12 coach."
"I am not just an 11th and 12th grade coach," he added. "I want to know these kids, I want to build a relationship with these kids...if kids truly love the game of basketball, I want them to know that and I want to know who those kids are and I want to those kids to know me."
Marfia said one big advantage to coaching in Oxford is it only has one high school, which gives him an opportunity to meet nearly every student in Oxford.
"I want to get to know them, introduce myself, and give them an opportunity to get better at the game of basketball so when we come along at 11th and 12th grade, we are picking from the best athletes, the best kids...and we are creating this basketball family out there," he said.
"I think there are too many kids that slip through the cracks, that don't get a chance, that don't get the foundations of basketball. We are trying to provide that and build that," he added.
It isn't just Marfia and his coaches teaching the campers. He pulls in some of his high school players to instruct the kids.
"I love seeing my high school kids coach them up and interact with them," he said.
Marfia added he found a quote online after the death Fennville basketball star Wes Leonard from a father who said "the toughest thing about this is I have to tell my eight-year-old his hero died."
"That quote really echoed with me," Marfia said. "I said to myself what have I done as a coach to create that environment and that relationship with my basketball players and these young kids?"
"That is what I am really trying to change here. I am really trying to let them understand this is a family, this is a culture," he added.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.