The hall leading to the South Whidbey High School gymnasium is adorned with photos of past Falcon athletic stars.
This week on the basketball court, the faces of future members of the school’s Wall of Fame honed their talents at a youth basketball camp for third- through eighth-graders.
Nearly 40 hoopsters took part in the camp directed by South Whidbey boys head coach Mike Washington and girls head coach Jeff Hanson, with the help of several current Falcon athletes.
The goals of the camp, according to Washington, were to build a camaraderie between the high school programs and the younger kids, to improve the skills of the young players and to give an opportunity for the high school players to pass along the fundamentals they have been taught to the players who will some day take their place.
“We want the kids to have fun and fall in love with basketball so they will continue to play,” Washington said. “We want them to meet the high school players; we want them to want to become Falcons.”
Hanson echoed Washington’s wish that the kids have fun, adding, “It is amazing how quickly the kids pick up the fundamentals. It is good to see them having fun and learning a sport they want to play.”
Washington noted that most of the high school players helping out with the camp grew up attending the sessions themselves.
“I remember back when I was that kid in camp,” senior Farriss Jokinen, a member of the girls varsity team, said. “Now it is really fun teaching them what I learned.”
Junior Nick Young said it is “really fun teaching the kids something new, seeing them excited about learning new skills.”
Camper Elizabeth Haines, an eighth-grader, “loves the adrenalin rush” of camp.
“I really like the team side of basketball, that part of the game,” she added.
Haines also enjoys interacting with the high school players.
“It helps you see where you could be in a few years,” she said. “They are role models.”
Seventh-grader Maddox Smith-Heacox appreciates the “high level of coaching” he receives at camp plus the varied viewpoints he receives from having more than one coach watch and comment on his skills.
Being able to work with the high school players “makes it even more fun,” he added.
Sixth-grader Spencer Jomas likes playing basketball and the opportunity to improve his shooting at camp.
“I like learning the strategy of the game and watching my friends improve,” he said. “I also like learning from the coaches; they are all extremely nice.”