Kyle Courtney was back in town this week.
The former Valley Christian Academy Lions boys basketball coach was here on a working vacation.
Courtney’s vacation allowed him to spend time with family and friends.
The work came at a four-day basketball camp at VCA — a camp that also happened to include several of his friends.
“I don’t know if you could call this work,” said Courtney. “This is fun. I love seeing the kids — some of the older ones were here while I was coaching.”
Courtney left VCA and headed to the Midwest four years ago.
“I was at Valley Christian for three years,” said Courtney. “But then I got the chance to be the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Rapid City Christian School.”
Courtney has been based in South Dakota since then but still makes time to return every summer to the Central Coast.
“This is my third year coming back for this camp,” said Courtney. “I’m still good friends with (VCA athletic director) Pete Fortier. It’s good to see Pete and (VCA girls basketball coach) Randy Stanford and some old friends.”
Stanford was one of Courtney’s assistants this week, along with Grace Cose — a home-schooled junior who plays for Stanford’s VCA team — and Courtney’s brother Adam.
“My brother is also at Rapid City Christian,” said Courtney. “He’s coaching our junior varsity team.”
The camp, which was held Monday through Thursday, was split into two sessions.
“We had the younger kids, from the first through the sixth grades, here in the mornings,” said Stanford. “Then the camp for junior high and high school kids was in the afternoon and it was open to everybody — you don’t have to be a student at Valley Christian to attend any of our camps.”
VCA’s gym was full for both sessions with 34 elementary school campers every morning and another 30 junior high and high school players in the afternoon.”
“Regardless of their age, we work on the fundamentals — ball handling, dribbling, footwork and, of course, shooting,” said Courtney. “If you can teach them some fundamentals and get them to have fun along the way, then maybe they’ll stay with the game.”
The coaches split the campers into age groups — first and second grade and third through sixth for the younger campers and junior and senior high players among the older.
“And we have a bunch of different dribbling and shooting competitions within those groups,” said Courtney. “We have dribbling competitions likes the two-hand flip, a quick hands competition, a comic combo and scissors competition.”
“I like dribble tag the best,” said 11-year-old Tristan Fortier, Pete Fortier’s son. “You dribble the ball and try to knock out the ball from other people.”
“We’re hoping the kids take what they’ve learned from camp and then keep practicing. That’s something they can do on their own, they don’t need to get a whole team together to do it,” said Courtney. “And if they keep practicing, they’ll be ready for next year’s basketball season.”