Saint Andrews – Now in its third year, the Basketball by-the-Sea camp has become a fixture for youth in the area, who share a passion for the game.
The camp, which takes place at Sir James Dunn Academy, drew to a close Wednesday, after a three-day run.
It’s organized by SJDA athletic director Mike Head, and directed by Joe Ticotsky (a 30-year director of the CT Starters AAU Basketball Club), who visits from New Haven, Conn.
Split into two age groups, Grades 5 to 8 took to the court from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., while those in Grade 9 to 12 attended an evening session.
Ticotsky said between the two age groups, the camp had approximately 34 participants, and noted it even welcomed participants who were visiting the area from Turkey, as well as Texas. Another, Ticotsky said, took the ferry from Deer Island each day to attend.
“We teach them fundamentals, offensive skills, ball handling, shooting, and passing. We try to build from day one so they can go out on their own and practice these drills at home.”
Ticotsky brought with him Brandon Sherrod; a 2016 graduate of Yale University, who is gearing up to play his second year of professional basketball in Italy, as well as Melissa Teel, now a freshman English teacher at Danbury High School, who played college ball at Western Connecticut State. It is Sherrod’s third year with the camp.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Sherrod said of returning to help coach the camp, and said he was happy to return to Saint Andrews.
He noted he’s already received feedback from the youth participants, which has been positive.
“Some of the kids just said, ‘you know, we’re having a lot of fun’. One kid [Tuesday] was like, I’m really tired, but I’m having so much fun’.
“That was perfect, that’s what we want.”
Sherrod said he his hopes are to return for another camp.
“Hopefully we can do this either again in Saint Andrews but for a longer time, or maybe expand to other places. If other folks are interested, it could really turn out to be a great thing. I definitely see myself coming back.”
For Teel, it was her first time ever coming to Canada.
“It was everything Joe described it to be; quaint, but there’s this energy of the town. Even though it’s so small, everyone’s so friendly and kind, and you get this sense of community that you don’t always get in the city.
“It’s a really nice change of pace, and the kids were awesome from the very beginning,” Teel said, adding though she’s a newbie to the camp, the participants welcomed her with open arms.
“They were great and I think my favourite moment was after the first day, a couple of them gave me a hug, and I was not expecting it,” Teel said with a chuckle. “It was so sweet; they have so much energy, and I love this age group because they’re so passionate, and they really want to learn.”