Champs give back to community, young Yellow Jackets
By Travis Dockery
389 Country Editor
More than 50 youngsters with dreams of one day playing in The Hive participated in a basketball camp hosted by the HHS men's basketball program. The camp ran from Tuesday, June 7 through Wednesday June 8. Although the camp has been held before, this year's campaign was by far the most successful.
"We last had a camp in 2019 with around 30 kids," said assistant coach Will Penland. COVID 19 restrictions kept HHS from hosting a camp in 2020 and 2021 and could have potentially eliminated any interest amongst youngsters. However, the opposite seems to be true. Hayesville's state championship no doubt had an affect on the record turnout.
"With the lockdowns and quarantines over the last couple of years, I was afraid that kids would lose interest in sports," said Penland. "But looking at this full gym, it makes me happy to see that isn't the case."
The head Yellow Jacket himself, Mike Cottrell, was also on hand during the camp, sharing his knowledge and smiles with the campers. "This is what coaching is all about," Cottrell said as he watched his players interact with campers. "I'm so proud of our guys who came out on their own time to not only be here, but to invest in the next generation of Yellow Jackets."
Every year, Cottrell not only focuses on improving his players' basketball skills and knowledge, but more importantly, how to be a better person. "These guys have bought in," Cottrell said. "I'm amazed by how they're interacting with these youngsters and how they are making it appoint to connect with them."
Penland talked about the campers, saying, "These young guys are just in awe of our high school guys. They see our players as more than state champs, they are heroes. We gave all of the campers t-shirts and one little guy went around and had all of the Jackets sign his shirt. It's great to see kids get a chance to learn from someone they look up to."
Proceeds from the two-day clinic will be used to pay for summer basketball camps for the high school teams. According to Cottrell, the summer camps are crucial to the team's preparation for the season. "Camps obviously are crucial for players to develop their skills, but also for us as a staff to see what we have and the best role for each player."
Throughout the summer, the Yellow Jackets will play 20-25 games, which is the equivalent to a full season. "Having that time to feel out our team lets us be able to just fine tune once the season starts, instead of rebuilding from the ground up."
389 Country will be providing Yellow Jacket updates throughout the summer.