Sports camp thrills youth for 5th year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Psst! Want to hear a secret?

The National Youth Sports Camp is back at Ohio University Southern this summer.It is a sports/enrichment camp for children ages 10 to 16, and it is free.

"It's the best kept secret in this area and we've been here five years," Ron Reed, NYSP activity director, said.

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The camp may be a secret, but kids have never been good at keeping secrets.

"My friends go, and they said they have alot of fun so I decided to come," Victoria Little, 11, said.

Spencer Schwab is a camp veteran, this is his third year.

"It gets you away from the house and the food is really good," Schwab, 14, said. "You get to learn alot of neat stuff."

He said he came back because he likes playing tennis, swimming and said the aids are friendly.

Rachel Bronson, an 18-year-old project aid and lifeguard, said she knew about the camp because her sister had participated before so she decided to volunteer. She said she enjoys interacting with the kids.

"They really look up to us," Bronson said. "If we're participating with the sports, the kids seem to interact more."

Professional tennis player Eddie Sizemore got involved with the camp last year.

"Coach Reed told me about the concept," NYSP Tennis Professional Eddie Sizemore said. "He told me about a free camp for kids in the area who might not be able to get this otherwise."

He said he teaches tennis lessons for $40 an hour which the kids at the camp are getting for free.

"We'll introduce them to tennis and some of these kids play basketball and football but I figure some are good enough to keep playing (tennis) and it's something they can always do," Sizemore said.

The camp also exposes them to possibilities.

"A lot of kids who thought they'd never go to college are on a college campus and now are talking about going to college," Reed said.

The campers are taught basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming and horseback riding but also take drug, alcohol and tobacco prevention and education classes. Everyday the kids get breakfast and lunch, play basketball, soccer and tennis, and take one of the classes. Every other day they swim.

"We've been fortunate enought to teach every kid who has come here how to swim," Reed said.

The project instructors teach the kids the basics of each sport.

"We teach them passing and moving with the ball, more or less teaching them how to play," said Jeremy Grizzle, soccer coach for the project and at Greenup County High School.

Joe Fraley is teaching basketball during the camp and said he has the kids play skill-building games.

"I teach them the fundamentals, the basics of the game and the rules," he said.

Sizemore also uses games to teach, such as "Jail."

To play the game, the kids individually hit a tennis ball over the net. If the ball bounces inside the court boundaries the player is still in the game. If the ball goes outside, or if someone in jail catches it, the player goes to jail. The jail is the side of the court the ball is being hit to and if someone in jail catches the ball, that person is back in the game.

"It's real fun because it's complicated because you have to hit the ball in a certain place and sometimes you go to jail," Jaci Epperson, 10, said.

Matthew Thomas said he likes the game best when he is the last one playing.

"I hit the ball and if they catch it, it's a jail break, but if they don't, I win," the 10-year-old said.

Reed praised his program comparing it to camps at other colleges in the state such as Toledo and The Ohio State University.

"We're equal to or better than any of those," Reed said. "We're the only school that doesn't have the facilities."

OUS does not have a soccer field for instance, but the camp organizers have found usable spaces in the area.

"We don't let any of the obstacles effect us," Reed said.

He also praised the sports instructors, saying they are the best around.

The camp is 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. during the week.It began Monday and will end July 8, however it is not too late to sign up.

Registration forms can be picked up at the main office at OUS and kids must have a sports physical before participating.