ANNA — Anna’s Coyotes headed to the Texas Hill Country on June 22 for basketball team camp at Southwestern University in Georgetown. There, with more than 25 other teams from across the state, Coyote varsity and JV players were immersed in three days of intense fundamentals instruction as well as plenty of game time and other contests.
The camps are run by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) and feature a 10-1 ratio of players to coaches. Several of these “Camp of Champs” were held at Southwestern throughout June. Days at the campus’s Corbin J. Robertson Center began at 6:30 a.m. and concluded at 10:30 p.m.
“It was cool,” Anna head coach Kyle Phifer said. “The kids really bought into it.”
Phifer and Anna parents traveled to Georgetown along with the team. He added that Anna sent 19 players to the camp, the most of any program there.
“They kind of got away,” he said. “They got away from us, they stayed in the dorms together, they bonded.”
Phifer said the Anna parents’ eight-vehicle convoy to Georgetown reminded him of the scene from the movie “Hoosiers.”
“That’s what it looked like when we went down there, because all the parents brought their kids,” he said. “We can’t provide transportation (this time of year).”
The Corbin J. Robertson Center features a second-floor track above the court and that’s where parents perched to watch camp.
The 6:30 a.m. sessions were optional, but Phifer said 95 percent of his Coyotes attended them, making up one-third of the class.
“The kids that we have right now, they love being in the gym,” he said.
Four hours each day were devoted to individual-position instruction, with various competitions filling out the schedule. Phifer noted that Anna players won a “Money-Ball” shooting contest.
Phifer said he’s impressed with the Coyotes’ enthusiasm as that will be important as the team rebuilds.
“We lost seven seniors and we had nine total on varsity,” he said. “So you have two left and, basically, we brought up JV kids and some off our freshman team. … Everything’s new to them. They’re adjusting to the speed of the game, the size, things like that. I really thought by the end of the year they got used to the speed, that part. It’s just understanding that at the varsity level, everybody can shoot, everybody can make plays. You can’t take a play off like you probably could in JV. They’re getting used to it, but their ‘buy-in’ is unbelievable. They’re working extremely hard. I’ve never had a group work as hard as these kids are working. They’re fun to be around. I think it’s going to be a good year.”
Highlighting the youth of this year’s Anna squad, Phifer said that he and his wife recently invited the team over to watch the NBA Finals. His wife noted, “There’s no cars here,” to which Phifer replied, “None of them can drive. They’re 15.”
“So when is your varsity going to get here?” she asked.
“This is them,” Phifer said.
Phifer, though, said he looks forward to next season’s challenge.
“Those seniors I had last year, they started off and they went through the same thing, where they’re learning how to win, number one,” he said. “Then you have another goal, winning district. Then you get in the playoffs and you try to win in the playoffs.”