As summer has reached the high country, schools have let out for the summer break, and every child’s face seems to be smiling with joy. This week marks the first of the summer camps here in Ashe County, camps that will feature over seven weeks of accumulative development time with the youth of Ashe County. Camps ranging from tennis, to basketball, to baseball, even cheerleading and volleyball are featured, and ran by members of the Ashe County sports scene.
This week, the camps got underway with Mike Eldreth offering the Mighty Mites Basketball Camp and the Junior League All Stars Basketball Camp at Blue Ridge Elementary, Mike Johnson and the Ashe County Middle School basketball coaching staff coordinating the Rising Stars Basketball Camp at the Middle School, and Vicky Herman coordinating the Junior Tennis Clinic at Ashe County High School.
The Mighty Mites camp is one of the few camps this summer that is geared toward younger athletes. Mike Eldreth offers the camp to athletes in kindergarten, first, and second grades as it coincides with the Mighty Mites Basketball program that runs during the school year. Mighty Mites was founded years back when Lansing Elementary was still in operation, and the program transferred to Blue Ridge Elementary when Lansing and Riverview Elementary consolidated. Mighty Mites main purpose is to teach the participants the fundamentals of basketball, creating a solid base, while allowing the kids to have fun doing so.
Mike Eldreth’s other basketball camp is the Junior League All Stars Basketball Camp, which is offered for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders of the county. This is one of two camps offered during the summer for this age group for basketball. This is the second year that the Junior League All Stars camp has been offered.
At the youth league basketball camp last week at Blue Ridge Elementary School, Mike Eldreth said he was very pleased with the response.
“This is the second year we’ve done this, and it’s pretty good this year,” he said. “We had a good turnout, about 51 this year. That’s a good crowd.”
Eldreth said he is pleased with some of the potential he’s seen in the boys and girls who came to participate in the camp. It was a hot week so the youngsters had to take it a bit easy, but they were enthusiastic about playing basketball both indoors in the school gym, and outdoors on a makeshift court set up in the parking lot.
Along the lines of basketball, the Rising Stars Basketball Camp at Ashe County Middle School was also held this week. Ashe County Middle School’s Athletic Director Mike Johnson and the remainder of the Bulldog’s coach staff offered the camp for middle school basketball athletes. The camp develops fundamentals, and works on skills and techniques that athletes need to compete on Ashe County Middle School Bulldogs basketball program.
“We had about 37 total,” said Ashe County Middle School Coach Mike Johnson about the youth league basketball camp turnout last week at the middle school. “We were blessed to have Mr. Harry Calloway’s presence with us this year.” Others helping with the camp included Mitchell Mash and Dustin Farmer, coaches at the middle school, and Charles Johnson, Mike’s son who is in college.
Johnson said the groups of boys and girls n rising seventh and eighth graders at the middle school n worked on the fundamentals of basketball. “We’re trying to teach them things they can take home and work on this summer,” he said, “and maybe play on one of the teams next year. These kids are a good size with some good skills. If they will continue to work hard and work on what they’ve learned and what we’ve taught, then they will have a good chance of making the team.”
Journeying away from basketball is the other camp offered this week. Vicky Herman, Ashe County High School’s women’s tennis coach coordinated the Junior Tennis Clinic at Ashe County High School. The clinic featured participants in the third through twelfth grade range and was geared towards teaching fundamentals for the beginners, and also to develop these fundamentals into fine-tuned skills for the more advanced tennis players.