summer camp

SKILLS — Fifth- through ninth-grade kids at the IUK summer basketball camp pause for a photo between drills.

Boys and girls have the opportunity to hone their basketball skills at the upcoming inaugural IU Kokomo youth summer camps, hosted by the college’s men’s basketball program.

During the camp, kids will work hands-on with coaches and college players, practicing skills such as shooting, ball handling, passing, as well as participating in teamwork and sportsmanship. Eric Echelbarger, head coach of IUK men’s basketball, is excited to bring this summer camp to IUK for the first time. He believes it can be a positive way for kids to develop their abilities from different players and coaches.

“For me, it’s very important to teach the fundamentals of basketball to young people,” Echelbarger said. “We take a lot of pride in working really hard with them on learning the basics and how to play the game the right way.”

Over the past 15 years, Echelbarger developed similar camps at a previous university and grew it to become the biggest and most successful in the St. Louis area, with about 500 kids in attendance each summer.

Now, kids in the Howard County community in grades one through four can attend this $75, five-day camp from July 22 to 26 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The camp is run by Echelbarger, IUK assistant coach Roosevelt Jones, and members of the men’s basketball team. According to Echelbarger, one of the most important aspects of this camp are the positive role models that are involved and the ability for participants to see how student-athletes play the game, how they act, and how they carry themselves on the court with their teammates.

Getting to connect with the youth of the community has been one of Echelbarger’s favorite parts of his coaching job.

“We’re definitely very dedicated to developing our relationships with the kids of Kokomo,” Echelbarger said. “I want to offer them some great camps and opportunities to interact with our coaches and athletes to bring them closer to our program.”

Earlier this month, the Cougars hosted camps for the fifth- through ninth-graders. Echelbarger hopes to continue these summer camps, as well as host possible youth clinics this fall to warm up for the upcoming basketball season.

Even with what Echelbarger considered low enrollment, about 70 kids from fifth- through ninth-grade, the coach was pleased with the energy and dedication shown on the court so far.

“Keep in mind this is our first year ever doing a camp, so our numbers aren’t as good as I’d like for them to be, naturally,” Echelbarger said. “But we have had a really good group of kids here this month that are working really hard for us and really want to learn, so it’s very healthy. I think they’re getting a lot out of the camp too, and I know as people learn about what we have to offer, this camp will become something very popular around Kokomo.”

Echelbarger was optimistic about the future of youth basketball in the City of Firsts and looked forward to working with the first- through fourth-graders next week.

For questions and registration info, contact Coach Eric Echelbarger at eechelba@iu.edu.