Eureka Springs Community Center hosts Highlander Basketball Camp May 4-5
Former Eureka Springs Highlander basketball players are returning to the old high school gym as coaches for the first annual Highlander Basketball Camp May 4-5.
Nick Bower and Ryan Sanchez will be coaching Carroll County students at the Eureka Springs Community Center during the two-day camp, starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4, and noon Sunday, May 4. The camp is for students between fifth and 12th grade and features a 3-on-3 basketball tournament Sunday. Bower said there will be two skill sessions on Saturday, split between grades 5-8 and 9-12.
"The whole camp is co-ed, and on the first day, we'll work with the kids in groups," Bower said. "We're going to have the 3-on-3 tourney on Sunday. There will be lunch at noon and then at 1 p.m., we'll start the festivities."
Bower continued, "We'll do a warm-up and then there will be rounds of the 3-on-3 tourney. Hopefully, we'll have enough kids to make it a full, fun day. We'll have the free throw competition, a three-point skills test, and there will be winners crowned at both the junior high and senior high level."
Sanchez said he's excited about the camp, because there hasn't been a camp for all the students in Carroll County quite like this before.
"Usually the schools have their own little camp. We want to change that," Sanchez said, "and grow it a little more. Hopefully, down the line it'll attract kids from schools all around. I think it's a good steppingstone for outreach for the community center."
"It's not Highlanders only," Bower said. "Anyone in those age groups is welcome. We're doing it for the betterment of all basketball players."
Bower and Sanchez played basketball together at the old high school, years before the Eureka Springs Community Center Foundation purchased it. They are both coaches today; Bower is the head ninth-grade coach at Bentonville High School, and Sanchez just completed his first year coaching the Lady Highlanders at Eureka Springs High School, who won a conference championship and advanced to the state tournament for the first time in several years.
“We have always been close friends through the game of basketball. We play together every Sunday," Sanchez said. "It's an honor to do this with Nick –– I'm learning from him, and I look forward to getting more coaching experience."
Sanchez said he's learned so much about coaching by watching other coaches in action.
"You look at other people's game and try to mimic them, then apply it to your own team," Sanchez said. "It's the same thing with coaching. This camp is an opportunity for not only the kids of Eureka but for me to see what Nick brings in."
Bower remembered his time as a Highlander, saying he was one of the most awarded players to ever be on the team.
"My junior year was our first time to be in the state tourney for 20 years," Bower said. "We were the first-ever team to win a game in the state tourney, and I believe that is still the case. That was a big deal for me."
He's looking forward to returning to the old high school gym, Bower said, and working with the community center.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the community and the community center," Bower said. "It's something I wish we had when Ryan and I were young –– something where kids can get together and spend time together in a place that's outside of school within the community."
He continued, "We'll probably get a lot better just by being part of it and learning from one another. We have completely different perspectives on the game of basketball. It's always good as a human to grow. It's going to be very fun."
When it comes to money, Bower said, the camp is a steal. It costs $5 per student and is free for community center members.
"It's very affordable, and Ryan and I have an extensive knowledge of the game," Bower said. "We'll have the ability to differentiate our teaching of the game to all sorts of different skill levels, so we won't only focus on the kids that are ahead. We're going to make everybody better. Nobody will fall through the cracks."
Sanchez agreed, saying it would cost $60 for one skill session of this caliber in other places.
"This is going to be three or four hours per individual, and you only pay $5 for both days," Sanchez said. "Why not spend something on your kids to learn about the game of basketball? Whether or not they become a basketball player, this is an opportunity for them."
Jack Moyer, who sits on the community center's board of directors, said the camp is expected to re-engage local children at the old high school gym while connecting them to alumni who have fond memories of the space.
"The community center expects to play a large role in engaging the younger ages to benefits enjoyed through athletics," Moyer said. "We welcome participants and parents alike to join us for lunch on Sunday prior to the 3-on-3 tournament."
Sanchez encouraged parents to reserve a spot for their child in the camp, saying it's important to do that before the event happens. To reserve your spot, go to www.ReserveEureka.com/Attractions/HighlanderCamp.