Pictured above are the 4th through 7th graders.
By Kyle Quick
New Haven, Mo. - Coach Ray Steinhoff held his first summer basketball camp in 1986, barley having enough kids to even play a regular game. Steinhoff's summer camp has grown into a weeklong event with a morning and afternoon session.
For the second straight year Steinhoff had 80 kids attended last weeks summer basketball camp saying, "There were a few years I had 83 or maybe 84 turnout but this would be the second or third most kids we've had."
Each year Steinhoff looks at who all came the previous years to see if there are any kids who did not now return. Amazingly, you could count on one hand the number of players who were not at this year's camp.
In the past 27 years, coach Steinhoff has watched countless players attend his camp for the first time as fourth graders to eventually playing for him seven or eight years later.
I spent a few minutes Thursday afternoon with coach Steinhoff for a quick Q & A session about 27 years of hosting a basketball camp.
Q. What do you like the most about camp, particularly the younger kids?
Steinhoff: Their enthusiasm when they get to the games and our different contests... just watching them have fun, which is one of our main focuses with the younger kids. Because if they see that playing basketball is a fun sport they are much more likely to stick with it and hopefully develop that desire to constituently wanting to improve as they get older.
Q. What it is like to watch kids attend their first camp and then eventually coach them?
Steinhoff: It's always fun and rewarding to see them stay with it because as you get older it gets harder and as you move up it becomes where you have to actually work at the game more to become a good player.
Not all the kids will stay with it as they go through but when you see kids start with it in 4th grade and enjoy the game enough to work at it keep improving, it is really rewarding.
At the same time my worst day of the year is always when we lose our last game at the varsity level when we get knocked out. There have only been four times out of 30 years we won that last game.
Walking into the locker room after coming up short of our goal and I draw back to the fact these kids have been with this since third or fourth grade... put all this time into it and came up short of what they ultimately wanted to do and that feeling I have a lot.
I absolutely hate that last game of the year... it ruins my life for a week because of the amount of time and effort they put into it since they were little on.
Q. Is there anything you have learned from the kids?
Steinhoff: Every now and then your reminded that you have to keep it a fun game to play, particularly the elementary kids, which I think is one reason we have so many that come back year after year.
With the elementary kids if you can make it fun, where they enjoy basketball, their going to play more, and keep coming back.
Coach Steinhoff also wanted to thank everyone who came out and donated their time, helping with this year's camp.
Pictured below are the 8th through 12th graders.