HOMER — Any thought that kids would want to spend this summer indoors on their phones or playing video games should be thrown out the window, according to Homer athletic director Todd Lisi.
Homer varsity girls basketball coach C.J. Kudla is holding his second girls basketball Summer Skills Camp this week at Homer High, and the turnout has been incredible.
“There’s a need and a want for kids to do things right now,” Lisi said. “Some people might say ‘The kids are lazy, they want to play on their phones and they want to play video games.’ That’s not true. What it comes down to is getting a basketball into the hands of a student at a very young age.”
The camp began in 2019 with from 40 attendees from Homer and nearby communities such as Cortland, McGraw and Dryden. After last year’s camp was cancelled due to COVID, this year’s camp has drawn more than 90 attendees, all from Homer, from kindergarteners to 12th graders.
“This is all C.J.,” Lisi said. “C.J. brings intensity and enthusiasm to coaching. He’s passionate, and when you put all those things together, it equals success.” The camp has drawn interest from players of all skill levels, from varsity starters to girls who want to give the sport a try for the first time.
“We have a lot of kids that are just starting out,” Kudla said. “We even have a lot of older kids that just want to give it a try. The excitement for boys’ and girls’ basketball at Homer High has gone up tremendously, so they want to give it a shot. They’re here to compete, and some of them are here to have fun. Some of them take it super seriously. They play AAU year-round. We’ll see who sticks it out and who gets better, but right now, we’re just focusing on having fun and getting better.”
Camps like this one and the one Homer boys’ varsity basketball coach Rex Ryan ran two weeks ago are becoming increasingly common, and according to Kudla, that’s out of necessity for varsity squads to stay competitive.
“When you look at the programs we have to compete with, Westhill, Bishop Ludden, the better programs around here, these are the kind of camps that you’re seeing,” Kudla said. “We’re hoping that excitement brings success along with it.”