Back in the day, when kids were attending their first boy-girl dance, getting past the shy jitters was sometimes a problem. But throw the early-teen genders into a big room with basketballs, hoops and competitive drills at stake, and the “dance floor” fills up in short order with little vestige of timidity.
It is not like the basketball camp with boys and girls sharing the court is a new experiment. WHS varsity basketball coaches Terry Ferguson and Darryn Shearmire, who have known each other for nearly 20 years, have both run coed camps in their careers and were glad to introduce the opportunity to the Weatherford’s offerings of summer athletic camps.
“One of the main advantages [of collaborating the camp] is that it is more fun,” Shearmire said, “for the coaches and the kids. [Coach Ferguson] and I have some things we do differently and many others the same, and the kids get to see all of [those methods].
“And any time you have larger numbers of kids, like we do this week, it makes the camp a more thriving environment with a little added energy.”
The concept of the merged camps is consistent with the theme of Weatherford athletics, a sentiment the coaches feel is promoted by pooling experience, as well as resources.
“A motto we embrace in Weatherford is ‘We are one,’” Ferguson said. “And combining our programs, and these camps, together creates more unity for our basketball and I think speaks volumes for our programs.
“We’re moving in the right direction doing things like [merging the camps].”
Shearmire echoed the intent.
“We want the boys teams to support the girls teams, and vice-versa,” he said. “And this is an excellent way to support that. The more they get to know each other at these younger ages is going to help as they grow up in the programs.”
Both coaches have run basketball camps for many years and know how to structure the summer gatherings and to make them fun for the campers.
“If the kids are having fun, it is pretty much a guarantee that the coaches and the instructors are going to have fun, too,” Ferguson said.
The coaches run two weeks of the basketball instructional camps, with the first week dedicated to the younger cagers, grades 1 through 6. The second week features more kids who may have honed early skills already and are taking it to the next step. These boys and girls will be entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades.
“You would be surprised how much we can go beyond the basic fundamentals with this older group,” Ferguson said. “Concepts is something we have focused on this week, and these older kids have done really well [in grasping those].”
Both coaches heartily agree that while reaping the benefit of fun from the camps, there is a real opportunity to start at the ground level. With the younger and the older kids, the focus is to promote a higher basketball IQ as the kids stair step each level of the game.
Coach Shearmire will enter his second season of coaching the Lady Roos in the fall and looks forward to the new school year with a better familiarity of the Weatherford athletes.
“I have gotten to know the girls better, he said, “and just as importantly, they know better how I approach things. “I look forward to more good things for Weatherford basketball in the coming season.”