It’s been years in the making, but Puyallup coach Scott Campbell’s youth system is starting to pay off for Viking boys basketball with the return of former players Stefon Lyons and Alex Fraser as assistant coaches.
Nothing much has changed for Campbell after completing his ninth season on Puyallup’s bench, coaching many Vikings over the years. When Campbell first arrived at Puyallup, he wanted to establish a culture deeply rooted within the city.
“I want the players who come to Puyallup to be invested in the younger kids in our feeder program, because they are those kids role models,” Campbell said. “They don’t get to meet college or NBA players, but they get to meet Devin Neff or Tony Gutierrez. That’s exciting for them.”
Eight years ago, Campbell started this program when he first arrived. Back then it was a small, growing piece of Viking basketball.
The Viking Elite — Campbell’s youth basketball program — is a point of pride for the now nine-year coach. It’s his legacy.
“He’s (Campbell) is always telling us something new about the program,” Lyons said. “He’ll watch video the night before, and come into practice the next day with his notes telling us about what a fourth-grader did last night, or what someone else is doing that year. He’s really invested in it.”
Back then, the idea was building as Puyallup’s players would begin establishing their relationship with the youth of the city. For Lyons and Fraser, the idea was just a beginning.
It’s a big deal to the kids to see a high school player they look up to sitting there with them.
“We didn’t get to coach them because we were very busy, but we did do things like ref spring and summer games, or sit on their bench when they played,” Lyons said. “It’s a big deal to the kids to see a high school player they look up to sitting there with them.”
Some of those first kids to join the program were Neff, Gutierrez, Jaden Vollmen or Tyler Torgerson, all becoming integrated into Campbell’s vision when they were all in fourth-grade.
“I remember when the seniors on this year’s team were in third or fourth-grade,” Fraser said. “I’ve known those guys a long time, and that’s was a reason I decided to come back to coach at Puyallup, knowing that this was going to be a good group to coach.”
Both Lyons and Fraser return to Puyallup to be assistants for the Vikings team is everything Campbell envisioned years ago when began his tenure there.
He wanted players to buy into the community and the community to buy into them in return.
“I think he does take pride with them coaching with him,” senior Jaden Vollmen said. “It’s been different this year because there’s been more energy from everybody.”
With Lyons and Fraser on the bench, that has happened as each former Viking have given Campbell more than he could ask for: a return home.
I’ve known those guys a long time, and that’s was a reason I decided to come back to coach at Puyallup, knowing that this was going to be a good group to coach.
“It’s been great having them on the bench this year. They bring more energy to the bench because they are younger guys who can be active with the players,” Campbell said. “We can’t let them show us old guys up.”
Lyons and Fraser are just beginning with their coaching careers. Ever since graduating, Lyons has coached one of Puyallup’s youth teams each year, with this year being his first opportunity to coach varsity.
For Fraser, it was about finding time after work to help with the team.
For whatever their reasons on joining Campbell, there is a bright future for these young coaches that was seen all those years ago.
“I hope we can keep them, because the goal is to keep this thing together,” Campbell said. “I’m being a little bit selfish in not wanting them to leave, but I understand if they have desires to go off someday. But I just want us to stay together and win together as long as we can.”