In his first go-round running the Spartan Hoops Youth Camp, new Sumner High boys basketball coach Jake Jackson looked like a mad genius two weeks ago.
Keeping with the spirit of Sumner camps from the past, this year’s camp brought out the joy and fun the game of basketball offers. Jackson decided to shake things up a bit by combining both the boys and girls camps, creating a cauldron of organized chaos as 162 boys and girls packed both gyms at Sumner High.
“The point we wanted to emphasis is that basketball is supposed to be fun. We made that our camp’s theme for the coaches, making sure everyone under them is having fun,” said Jackson, who used his company, Sterling Athletics, to supply shirts and gear for the campers and player-coaches during the three-day camp. “We have kids coming from outside of Sumner coming to our camp. To me it’s special because we get to spread out to other communities with our message, and spread our mission.”
Throughout the week, the emphasis was a simple one that delves to the core of who Jackson is when it comes to the game of basketball.
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The game’s supposed to be fun.
Each day, every coach was entrusted to instill that motto into all the campers, placing a deep sense of belief in oneself that can help an individual overcome more difficult obstacles down the road.
“Jake just brings a whole nother level in just interacting with these kids,” Seth Carnahan said. “(Having) these shirts is nice, and the kids are getting excited to (now) come out and start watching us play.”
It was hard for the campers to not find enjoyment at the camp — especially with a litany of black and white basketballs emblazoned with the Sumner Spartan logo covering the courts. Or the nice, slick shirts each camper and coach wore. Jackson knew that these gifts could only add so much — they could only go so far to create the chaos he intended his camp to construct.
So in one swift move only a mad-genius could concoct, Jackson, a man who wanted absolute pandemonium inside the Sumner gym, decided to bring out the big guns. As a sense of calm enveloped the back gym where all the youngest campers gathered, coaches began their instructions on the next phase of the camp. Just as the hush settled over the campers, the main doors opened only for (near) total bedlam to ensue.
Sparty had arrived.
“The kids love him,” Jackson said of Sumner’s mascot. “They just go crazy when they see him.”
It was a wise move for the new coach as Sparty was the camp’s MVP. Everywhere he went, campers swarmed him for hugs, high-fives and pictures when possible.
And for the youngest campers there, it didn’t matter how many times Sparty came around. Whether it was seeing for the first time or if it was the 20th time at camp, the reactions were the same. Basketballs hit the floor and disorganization ensued.
“It’s fun to see them light up when they see him (Sparty). Everyone really likes him,” Kelsey Bell said.
Culminating in the best results Jackson could ask for in his first go-around with Sumner’s basketball camps.