‘We want to serve these kids’ Day 1 of Stu Stuedeman Cullman Basketball Camp in the books

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Campers celebrate at the end of a drill during day 1 one of this year’s Stu Stuedeman Basketball Camp at Cullman High School Monday. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – This year’s Stu Stuedeman Basketball Camp at Cullman High School officially tipped off Monday morning and over 50 kids turned out to learn from Bearcat varsity coaches and players. Head Coach Stu Stuedeman is entering his first season at Cullman and after he and his team spent most of June competing in summer play dates, they have a chance this week to work with the younger generation of players in the community. Camp got underway at 8 a.m. Monday morning and players were led through a variety of drills and skills competitions by the players and coaches at Cullman High School.

Stuedeman wasn’t quite sure what to expect on day one but was happy to see more than 50 young players turn out to compete and get better. The holiday weekend may have taken a toll on most of us but the campers at Cullman High were ready to play hard and hit the hardwood with plenty of energy.

“I’m very pleased with the turnout. I think we had over 50 campers and the energy was through the roof. I’m also really pleased with our players that worked the camp; they were all about it. They were energized, they were pouring into these kids and the kids really responded to that and gave a lot of hear and soul and effort out there,” Stuedeman said. “It was fun to watch. I was a little bit apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect coming off the July 4 holiday and with a gym full of kids at 8 a.m. they might’ve been sleepy, but they were ripping and roaring and ready to go so it was a lot of fun. Our players were great, the campers were great, and it was really just a great day.”

Young players at this year’s camp got the chance to work on the same drills and techniques the varsity Bearcat team uses and Stuedeman wants to see the campers continue building on those skills as they get older.

“We start every morning with the first hour of camp doing skill work stations. We did five, 10-minute skill work stations where we worked on the same stuff we do with our varsity team, down drives, jump stopping, kicking for shots. We did some passing drills to help their passing form and we did some shooting drills to help their shooting form and we worked on some attacking moves off the bounce,” Stuedeman said. “Basically, all the skills we work on with our varsity guys every day, we did with our campers and just scaled it down to make it a little bit easier for them. We worked on a lot of ball handling and basically just had practice for an hour so that was great. Those are things that kids can take home and take with them and get better at as they keep moving on.”

The basketball knowledge and hands on coaching that campers receive throughout the week will be a big help to them in their basketball careers going forward but what may be even more valuable is the time these young players get to spend with some of their role models. A lot of these campers will grow up to join the varsity teams themselves and this week is a great chance for the current varsity players to meet some of their biggest fans.

“It’s extremely valuable. We had a players and coaches meeting this morning before camp to talk about what we need out of our players for camp, and I touched on something I thought about when I visited Pearl Harbor. I talked about how humbling it is to think about those men and women who passed away and served their country to the highest level. I’m sure they were thinking ‘Why are you talking about this with us at 6:30 a.m.’ but I told them they have an opportunity to serve their community and there’s no better platform to do it than with the game you love,” Stuedeman said. “Our players really responded, and they served their community today. That’s what its really about and I think the campers just fed off of that energy and fed off our players pouring into them. It’s important for those kids to see those players that they want to be one day, and they look at them and remember ‘Hey that guy was a great guy and he really helped me at camp. I want to do that one day. I want to play basketball one day.’ That’s our biggest thing, we want to serve these kids and use our platform to pour into them, to help them get better and to have fun at the same time.”

This year’s camp will resume Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. and will continue through Wednesday and Thursday.

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