Youth hoops camp held at St. Mary Catholic

Parkersburg Catholic junior Emma Pfeiffer, left, works with Stella Huffman on shooting at a basketball camp at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Marietta Wednesday night. RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times

Not too long ago, Morgan Altenburger was a basketball camper at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Marietta.

Now, the 15-year old sophomore-to-be at Marietta High is one of camp director Bryan Nichols’ assistants.

“I went here for three years, fourth, fifth, and sixth,” said Altenburger, an All-ECOL and district honoree on the hardwood as a Tiger freshman last winter. “I actually got Camper of the Week here in the sixth grade.”

“I really had to work on ballhandling and defense,” she added, “because Coach (Allen) Ruth worked it when I went.”

Altenburger paused.

“It’s kind of hard, because you have to make sure the kids stay focused,” she continued. “You have to correct them on what they do.”

Ruth was a first-year MHS girls basketball boss last season, and is still involved, along with his wife Elizabeth, with the summer camp which tipped off Monday and is scheduled to finish today. Also assisting Nichols were Emmy Yoho, Gary Tucker, Dr. Brett Frye, Jenna Carr, Aaron Heiss, Mike Haller, and student helpers like Altenburger. Emma Pfeiffer of Parkersburg Catholic, Logan Ayers, and Braden Ayers.

“This year, we have 60 boys and girls, age groups first grade to sixth grade,” Nichols said. “That’s a pretty good turnout.

“We’re running it Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. because all of us work for a living. We have to run it at night. We don’t have anybody full-time during the day, like the head coaches of all the other camps. So, it works out pretty good.”

This week, a guest coach/speaker has been featured before the start of station work on ballhandling, defense, footwork, passing, shooting, and rebounding. On Monday, PHS girls head basketball coach Scott Cozzens addressed the group; Tuesday, Marietta College men’s basketball coach Jon VanderWal; Wednesday, MC women’s basketball coach Kole Vivian; and today, Williamstown girls basketball coach Fred Sauro will be in the spotlight.

“These coaches speak about 10-15 minutes to the kids,” Nichols said. “They talk to them early on to get the kids’ attention. Each coach spoke about different drills, different life experiences, and things. “

Alyssa Baker of Marietta said that she’s been coming to the camp since the third grade.

“It’s helped me out very much,” said the Marietta Middle School sixth grader. “It’s helped me with my dribbling a lot. I can keep control of the ball better, and my defense has improved a whole lot.”

Nichols said Baker, the daughter of Scott and Angie Baker, was a pretty good free-throw shooter.

“She’s doing well,” Nichols said. “She was 9 for 10 the first night.”