James McKinnon, the girls’ head basketball coach at Rocky Hill, launched a new basketball camp this summer. The first annual camp of Jr. Terriers: Hoop Hill was a major success, hosting 38 developing girls hoopsters, ranging grades 5th through 8th, from June 28 – July 2.
“The idea is to build camaraderie and relationships with our youth players while teaching them the individual and team-oriented skills needed for success,” McKinnon said of the program.
"When I was hired in November 2020 I told Joe Horvath [Rocky Hill athletic director] that I wanted to start a basketball camp to help build up the interest in girl's basketball in Rocky Hill. I then met with Rocky Hill Parks and Recreation, specifically Craig Bowman and Logan Gauvin, to help get the ball rolling,” added McKinnon, “I can't thank Craig and Logan enough for all of the hard work they have done for us behind the scenes in helping to organize our camp. Craig and Logan have both been professional, well organized, and they are wonderful communicators. It's made my job a lot easier."
McKinnon, who is a graduate of RHHS and previously coach boys’ basketball at the school, has brought a much-needed development program back to the area.
"The original ‘Hoop Hill’ was run by former Rocky Hill boys coach Rick Watson in the mid-1990's when I was both a camper and a counselor. My siblings and our friends all attended the camp and we had a lot of fun and I wanted to bring that same joy to the kids in our town as well. I feel that as the leader of the girl's basketball program in Rocky Hill it is part of my responsibility to keep the youth engaged and excited about our sport because they are the future of our team. We are extremely delighted and humbled at the fact that so many kids wanted to participate.”
Helping McKinnon run the program were current and former players. 2021 graduates Hannah Conneely, Jillian Chipkin, and Peggy Minga, along with current Terriers, Abigail Boutin, Christina DeNovellis, and Alyssa Gau helped run the program. Scott Anderson, a 2008 graduate who played for McKinnon from 2006-2009, also volunteered his time
"The current high school players are role models for the athletes at our camp because they have the ability to teach, motivate, and build confidence in our young players. These high school players, all of whom I coached this past season, are given a chance to inspire our youth to be the best people they can be. More than likely, some of this week's campers will be counselors at "Jr. Terriers: Hoop Hill" in the years to come and they will remember how special it was to be around these high-school athletes when it is their turn to lead our youth by example."
McKinnon added the most rewarding part of the camp is seeing the young players learning specific skills in drills and then utilizing those skills during competition. The plan is to make this an annual event, with a tentative date of June 27 – July 1 for the summer of 2022.
James McKinnon with his current and former players, who volunteered at the first annual Jr. Terriers: Hoop Hill
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin