Coach Kirker, Lady Dragons host 2018 WUHS Basketball Camp –
By Mark Carpenter –
The fliers promoting the 2018 West Union Basketball Camp advertised the camp to be a place to “Work Hard…Play Hard…Have FUNdamentals”, and that is just what 37 youngsters from kindergarten through sixth grade did for five days. The 2018 WUHS Camp ran from June 4-8 and with the school having no permanent varsity boys coach in place at the moment, this year’s event was organized by Lady Dragons head coach J.R. Kirker and his staff.
“Camp really went very well this year,” said Coach Kirker on the camp’s final day. “It’s very important to get these kids back in the gym working on the fundamentals that they may not get anywhere else. Getting them in the gym and teaching passing, dribbling, and shooting manes a lot to our program.”
“Our camp numbers might be down a bit from last year but no matter how many are here, it’s good that they are in the gym for a week. The boys push the girls to do a little better, but overall the camp means a lot to the future of our basketball programs, especially on the girls’ side where we are down on numbers at the high school level. If we can keep kids interested all the way through, maybe our high school numbers eventually go up.”
Keeping 37 young girls and boys of varying ages all in the right place at the right time can be a monumental task and Coach Kirker certainly could not go it alone, and as with every camp in the area, the assistance of the school’s high school athletes is extremely important, and in the week’s time no less than 19 high school Dragons were on hand to do their part as “teachers”.
Two of those high schoolers on hand will be seniors this upcoming season for the Lady Dragons basketball squad, McKenzie Kirker and Kiersten Rowe and they both talked about their camp experience.
“I love kids and it is good to interact with them all week and teach and help them,” said Kirker, the head coach’s daughter. “I want to be a teacher someday so this is a good experience for me. In just this week, so many kids have improved. At the beginning of the week, I was helping one boy who was really struggling, but now he is doing really good.”
“I like to see these kids enjoy the sport that I love and it’s so good to see them improve over the week,” said Rowe, “I try to be a good role model for these kids and show them not just what basketball is about, but how to be a good person and respectful.”
“Being a role model for these younger kids to look up to is so important,” added Coach Kirker. “Being the role models that they are supposed to be as high school athletes.”
The kindergarten through second grade campers for the week included: Ethan Silvia, Brantley Hayslip, Ethan Caldwell, Fletcher Watkins, Airowyn Blanton, Clare Cox, Aaron Jackson-Hayslip, Hallee Cox, Lyrric Hanson, and D.J. Rothwell.
Campers from third through sixth grade included: Tyren Pennington, Rylee Ferrell, Gaige Knox, Alex Dillow, Kenton Butt, Gavin Rowe, Drayden Holbrook, Madison Stout, Wyatt Tolle, Logan Cole, Logan Caldwell, Jakab Thompson, Raylee Brummett, Kale Garrison, Maxx Hanson, Tegan Knox, Chance Mahon, Shelbi Weakley, MacKenzie Stout, Miley Smith, Reagan Kersey, Kyla Kidder, Sara Boldman, Olivia Lewis, David McClanahan, Jenny Whitley, and Skylan Pennington.
The high school Dragons who pitched in to assist were: McKenzie Kirker, Kiersten Rowe, MacKenzie Bickett, Harley Silvia, Alexa Rowe, Kaitlyn Vogler, Kaitlyn Davis, Jai-Michael Knox, Tanner Neal, Chesnee Ayres, Maddy Taylor, Lena Blanton, Kayden Francis, Molly Purcell, Clayton Madden, Ryan Rothwell, Bowan Tomlin, Zane Kingsolver, and Audrey Weakley.
Coach Kirker was assisted by a large staff of adults that included: Lady Dragons Assistant Coach Frankie Rowe, Donovan Pennington, Jacob Stout, Mike Knox, Michael Blanton, Buck Campbell, and T.J. Liston.