|A full day at the
Indiana's Best All Star Camp
by Cory Webster
Region Roundball Review
This one-day summer event before the NCAA observation period serves both busy players and the ND coaching staff
|Held at Notre Dame on Monday, July 3|
Notre Dame Women's Head Basketball Coach, Muffet McGraw, is looking forward to next year. Her team finished with a record of 27-5 last year, and made another appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Notre Dame returns three starters next year, including First Team AP All-American Ruth Riley, a native of Macy, IN.
Maybe Ruth's success is one of the reasons that Notre Dame has renewed its' interest in recruiting Indiana talent lately, but I can think of two other reasons -- rising senior star Jackie Batteast (South Bend Washington) and rising junior phenom Shanna Zolman (Wawasee) -- two of the most sought after high school recruits in the nation, and both are playing high school ball just a stone's throw away from the Joyce Center. I'm sure Coach McGraw would agree, both would look great in a Notre Dame uniform.
But how do you keep stars like Batteast, Zolman, and many others who attended her camp home, when so much of the top talent in Indiana has left the state over the past couple of years? How do you reverse the trend? How can we keep Indiana stars playing in front of their families and friends, and not hundreds of miles away? How do we pique their interest and expose them to some of the great programs right here in Indiana?
When Coach McGraw posed these questions to her good friend, Portage High School Girls Basketball Head Coach, Renee' Turpa, little did she know that Coach Turpa had an idea, and what a great idea it was! Her idea, a one day Indiana's Best All Star Camp. A camp that would invite the top players from Indiana to compete against each other, and expose them to many of the great things Notre Dame Women's Basketball has to offer all in one day.
Renee' suggested the camp after remembering the same concept being used by Lin Dunn back when she was Head Coach at Purdue. She knew by limiting the camp to one day, it would be very attractive to players who are so busy during the summer with AAU, exposure camps, and other college camps. She also knew, however, that the top draw for players attending this camp, would be the level of competition.
Fifty of the top players from the classes 2001, 2002, and 2003 were invited and most of them attended. Even some younger players who may be the stars of the future were invited. The following is a list of some of the players who attended:
From the Class of 2001 there were Jenny DeMuth (Highland), Jill Corbett (Cathedral), Rachel King (Fort Wayne Luers), Candice Williams (Lebanon), Maria Marchesano (Fort Wayne Elmhurst), Lauren Hansen and Amanda Autrey (Portage), Brandy Swihart (Plymouth), and many more. Jackie Batteast, Kate Endress, and Hillary Beck were scheduled to attend, but had to miss due to injury or prior commitments.
Some of the top players from the Class of 2002, were Shanna Zolman (Wawasee), Sharika Webb (Cathedral), Alex Webster (Crown Point), Missy Taylor (Connersville), Jamie Gutowski (Andrean), and Lauren Bechtold (Hebron).
From the class of 2003, there was Katie Gearlds (Beech Grove), Crystal Norman and Santana Granderson (South Bend Riley), and Julie Briody (Tecumseh).
Quite an impressive roster of players, but what was more impressive was that a real effort went into dividing the talent equally into teams, which made most of the games for the day extremely competitive. The instruction during the camp was also top notch, and the day truly gave the girls an idea of what it would be like to go through a college workout.
While I was there I asked several parents what they liked best about this camp. The most popular response was the effort Coach McGraw and her staff put into making the camp a great experience for both the players and their parents. Most seemed to think that the overall attitude displayed by the coaching staff gave indication that Notre Dame was honored to host such a talented group of players and their families.
Coach McGraw's coaching staff and high school coach camp assistants Renee' Turpa (Portage), Bruce Dockery (Evansville Memorial), Kem Zolman (Wawasee), and River City Rocker AAU coach Jed Stevens were relaxed, friendly, and interacted with both campers and parents.
The coach to camper ratio was about 3 to 1, and coaches went out of their way to make sure parents were comfortable and a part of the activities. ND assistant coaches even went as far as to carry folding chairs from gym to gym for parents to sit and watch drills.
During one segment of the camp, Coach McGraw spent time chatting with all the parents while assistants handled instruction. She actually took the time to sit down and chat for several minutes with all the parents, and made sure she visited with all in attendance. Needless to say, many of the parents were quite impressed.
Parents were invited to lunch with campers and coaches at the university dining hall, the parents were treated to a lecture by the Notre Dame's strength trainer, a tour of the weight room to watch several members of the team work out (including Ruth Riley), and finished with a tour of the Lady Irish locker room. The day finished with a lecture by Coach McGraw on the qualities and dedication it takes to get to the Division I level.
Credit Muffet McGraw and her ND camp staff for providing a great day of basketball for all who attended. The players in attendance couldn't have asked for a more complete and worthwhile day.
Word has it, the camp will be repeated next year. Players and parents, if you get the chance to attend next summer, don't miss it!
ND Indiana's Best All Star Camp Attendees: