Alumni, players and kids converged in the first annual Berkshire Badgers basketball camp.
The Berkshire basketball community is one of the more tightly-knit groups of alumni in Geauga County, looking backward to its golden tradition, and forward to its future.
Much of it comes from Matt Janssen, alumni and Berkshire recreation basketball volunteer.
Janssen, whose grandfather and father both coached basketball at Berkshire, has successfully started alumni leagues and tournaments, allowing creaky knees to enjoy the full-court pace of competitive basketball again.
Janssen sat down with new varsity head coach Keith Clapacs at the beginning of this school year to talk how the high school and elementary programs could join hands.
His 9-year-old son, Maxwell, participated in the event.
“We decided to start small,” Janssen said. “But all involved shared the same big vision of an annual event to the already great Badger basketball tradition.”
The program hosted its first “Past, Present and Future” basketball camp last week, which featured a drills camp for elementary-aged players, instruction from alumni, and, as a main event, a alumni basketball game, where the current varsity team took on legends of the past.
Clapacs thought the turnout was great.
“Especially this early into the basketball season,” he said. “We know how much the program means to the community and the alumni, so we certainly owe it to the tradition to bring the basketball family together whenever we can.”
Current Athletic Director Brian Hiscox, a Berkshire graduate, also helped with the event. He said the young players look up to varsity players, like the varsity players did when they were young.
“Now they have an opportunity to give back to people who are now in their shoes,” Hiscox said.
He added: “To see the energy our coach (Clapacs) has in not only working with our high school team, but working with our community’s youth, is really encouraging for our program.”
Alumnus Kelly Blair is an assistant at Hiram College. He thought the players enjoyed it.
“Participation at the youth level is crucial for athletic success in a small community like Burton,” he said. “Today the basketball program took a step in that direction, and it was great for everyone involved.The opportunity for future Badgers to interact with current and former players was rewarding for all the participants.”
Those in attendance offered ideas to turn the event into a fundraiser for the future, Janssen said.
And those that stayed for the Alumni vs. Varsity game saw a treat.
Of course, as is usually the case, experience prevailed, 82-44.
For more photos of the event, visit bit.ly/leafphotos.
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