CHARLOTTESVILLE — Aaron Spaulding told a sad story.
It was about a loving father who one day found himself out of his depth when he was asked to coach his daughter’s volleyball team. The loving father wanted to help, but unfortunately, he didn’t know how.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” the Eastern Hancock athletics director, boys basketball and one-year volleyball coach recalled. “All I knew was you wanted to hit the ball over the net.”
After that, Spaulding did not want other fathers to go through what he did. While this story is not the reason he started an annual father-and-son basketball clinic at Eastern Hancock, it is the fuel that keeps him coming back every year.
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“I do this so that dads have some stuff they can teach their kids if dad hasn’t played in a while or doesn’t have a lot of knowledge,” said Spaulding, who on Tuesday hosted the camp for the 16th time.
“This camp is designed to give them some things to build off of.”
Parents, Spaulding would later say, are the most important coaches in their kids’ lives. They are the adults responsible for teaching their young ones the fundamentals, so they must be equipped with the proper knowledge to instruct them. The reality is, he said, by the time these kids reach high school, they already are mostly the players they are going to be.
But while learning the elements of basketball is crucial, Spaulding said, there is another reason he conducts the camp. And it is perhaps even more fundamental than the shooting, passing and defensive drills he guided the campers through.
“It’s really a great opportunity for kids to spend some time with their dads,” Spaulding said.
For an hour-and-a-half Tuesday night at the Eastern Hancock Elementary School gym, more than a dozen fathers and sons learned basketball’s basics, together.
Spaulding walked them through shooting drills teaching the kids to use their strong hands to launch the ball and their off hands to guide it. He showed the campers proper dribbling techniques and the significance of keeping their heads up while moving down the court.
He taught them the art of throwing an accurate bounce pass.
First-time camp attendees Mike Carter and his 8-year-old son Ethan came out to further explore Ethan’s budding curiosity in the sport. By the end of 90 minutes and after working up a sweat, each had decided it was time well spent.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played,” said Carter, a former Mt. Vernon basketball player who graduated in 1996. “Tonight helped jog the memory a little bit. There are a lot of things we did here tonight that we can work on together.”
For the soft-spoken Ethan, as much he liked to put the ball in the basket during camp, the best part of his evening was the company he kept.
“My favorite part? Being here with my dad,” Ethan said.
Boaz Womack felt similarly about his dad, Mike. Except his favorite part wasn’t just attending the camp with his father, it was beating him in a game of one-on-one.
“I don’t always beat him,” the 8-year-old said. “I did tonight.”
Womack said coming to the clinic with Boaz and his older son Zeke, 10, is a great opportunity to do something different in the summer.
“They love coming to the gym,” said Womack, who coaches youth basketball at the elementary school.
“They love playing with their buddies. Plus, there is only so much you can do around the house in the summertime. And when you have boys, especially two years apart, they start getting chippy with one another. So any time we have an opportunity to get out of the house and take that energy and focus it in a positive direction where we can learn some things, it’s all good. … Tonight, everyone wins.”
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Tuesday’s Father and Son Basketball Clinic was the second-to-last camp to be offered at Eastern Hancock this summer. The final one is coach Jim O’Hara’s youth football camp. Here are a few details on that camp.
When: July 20 to 23.
Where: Eastern Hancock Practice Fields
Who: K-fourth grade: 2:30 to 4 p.m.; fifth-eighth: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
To find out how to register or for any other information about this camp, visit ehathletics.org.