Young players test themselves at camp

Published 12:52 pm Thursday, June 22, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Her playing days are over, but that doesn’t mean LaGrange High graduate Andrea Heflin is done with the sport that has meant so much to her.

Heflin, who was a member of the LaGrange College women’s basketball team as a freshman during the 2015-2016 season, is no longer able to play the sport on a competitive basis because of a knee injury.

As she has shown during a basketball camp this week, though, Heflin still has plenty of passion for the sport.

Heflin is one of the instructors for the Panthers Youth Basketball Individual Camp that is being held at LaGrange College’s Mariotti Gym.

Heflin has helped out with the camp for the past three seasons, and it’s something she loves doing.

She goes about her business with a smile, and she’s always quick with an encouraging word for the campers.

“If you want them to go hard, you have to be their cheerleader,” Heflin said. “Especially campers this young, they’re not going to listen to, you need to do this, this and this. They’ll listen to do this, but you’re doing a really good job. If you hype them up, they’ll play to their full potential.”

The four-day camp, which is offered by the men’s coaching staff at LaGrange College including head coach Kendal Wallace, concludes today.

The staff includes Wallace, his assistant coaches a number of the incoming freshmen, and Heflin.

“I love it,” Heflin said. “I’ve thought about getting a rec team, or something like that to do in my spare time. I really enjoy it.”

Wallace has been offering the camp each summer since he began as the Panthers’ head coachin 2011.

This summer, Wallace has turned over most of the responsibility for the camp to assistant coach Jason Jonus.

Jonus, who played collegiately at Birmingham-Southern, has been coaching with Wallace for four seasons.

“It’s been great,” Jonus said during a break in the action on Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve got right around 27, which is a good number. It’s the most we’ve ever had. And it’s been good. Everybody’s participated well. It’s been a good camp.”

During each of the four days of the camp, the players receive instruction from the coaches in the morning while participating in different drills.

Then in the afternoon, the players are divided into teams, and they play games.

The camp will conclude today with a tournament.

“Before we do the league games, I usually teach a skill of the day,” Jonus said. “Today is shooting. Yesterday I taught spacing. We try to teach them different concepts they can use during league play.”

As for the games, the competition is intense.

“We get after it,” Jonus said. “Of course we have some fun playing games, but we get after it.”

Jonus said it has been a nice change of pace working with the young players.

“Just being with them, with a different age group is fun,” he said. “It’s more hands-on.”

Heflin, meanwhile, is preparing for her third school year at LaGrange College, and while she isn’t a member of the team any longer, she’ll still support her former teammates.

“I love all the girls,” Heflin said. “Everybody’s great. I’ll come to all the games.”