Vernard Hollins inspiration for the first Always100 Pro Camp at the Parkview/SportOne Fieldhouse came when the former North Side standout was playing professional basketball in Europe.
What made me think of the idea was every team in Europe usually has two weeks off where they go into the mountains and team bonding. It is you away from everyone else, and you get to know each other, Hollins said. There are no cellphones and meet and greet and lectures, and I thought it would be a great idea for the kids to learn more than just basketball but lifelong lessons.
The sold-out camp with 120 kids in grades 3-12 runs today through Thursday and will feature testimonials from professional male and female players, talk from athletic trainers about dealing with injuries, media training, workout sessions and scrimmages. While the camp ends Thursday, the week will finish up with Hollins second annual charity all-star games, which run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Current and former players who are scheduled to speak include former Muncie Central and Ball State player Bonzi Wells, who will be talking at 1:15 p.m. Thursday.
Campers will also hear from Central State head trainer LaShaunta Jones on stretching, rehabilitation and avoiding injuries and have daily devotions that will include local ministers.
Everyone has a different path to success, said Hollins, who played collegiately at Wright State. Some kids may have to go to junior college first, but they can still make it. I dont want kids to throw in the towel because they are taking a different path. I wanted to show different athletes and the different walks of life they took to get to where they are now.
The media training will include mock interviews with Indianas NewsCenter.
No one teaches you how to speak to the media, Hollins said. You are just off on your own.
There will also be off-court activities to build team bonding including trips to Crazy Pinz, Lazer Tag and out to dinner.
The scrimmages include some of the top area high school players such as Homesteads Sydney Buck and Josie Fisher, Canterburys Kindell Fincher and Northrops Aleah Swary against seventh- and eighth- grade boys campers, as well as boys teams from Huntington North, Snider and North Side against campers.
The charity games will include all-star games in grades 3-12 for the 250 area players who train with Hollins and his Always100 organization. The money raised through donations and sponsors will go to help support the Metro football team Hollins Raiders, as well as parents and players who cannot afford college visits during the recruiting process.