Basketball camp focuses on skills, camaraderie, community

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 25, 2017
Photo by: Angie Hilsman Onset resident Aaron Strothers coaches at the all-star basketball camp.

Fifteen-year-old Tajuan Estrella always plays basketball with his socks on inside-out, and rolled down at the ankle, but he can't tell you why. He always wears short-shorts too, but there's logic behind that wardrobe decision.

"I like wearing high shorts. It makes it easier for me to move around and dribble," he said while playing at the Tripp Athletic Center last week.

Estrella was one of about 130 boys and girls, aged seven to 18, to participate in the New England All-Star Basketball Camp on the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus. Two summer sessions are held each year, this year's being June 26-30 and July 17-21.

Estrella, a New Bedford resident, plays point guard on Dartmouth High's varsity basketball team, and has been attending the weeklong camp for three years now. Although he joined the varsity team as a freshman, he said the camp has only strengthened his skill set.

"All the time, I'm challenged at this camp because they always have the best player on me," he said. "It teaches me, like mental... how to keep my composure in high-stress situations and play as a team."

That's only one focus of the camp, at which the student athletes run through drills and scrimmages.

"It helps in recruiting, community involvement, and a healthy lifestyle," said Brian Baptiste, who's been running the program for the past 30 years. Baptiste keeps the program successful by employing college athletes — like all-star Jordan Rezendes and Merrimack College's Aaron Strothers — who have the experience to back their coaching.

"The coaches here actually help me a lot because they play college ball," said Estrella. He added that after lunch, the camp-goers sit through lectures that cover the right way to shoot, and other techniques.

"The coaches here also build up your confidence in your skills," added Cason Tripp, 15, of Westport. As forward and center for Dartmouth High, Tripp appreciates the added coaching in ball handling and rebounding.

However, both he and teammate Jared Morin, 15, of Dartmouth, agreed that the skills only take you so far.

"Something I learned here is to have fun with what you do. In the end, it is just a sport," said Tripp.

"And if you make a mistake, keep playing," Morin, a shooting guard and forward for Dartmouth High, chimed in.

The pair said they use those skills when participating in other sports. Tripp is a pitcher for Dartmouth High's baseball team, and Morin plays both football and baseball.

More information about the summer camp can be found at facebook.com/NEAllStarCamp.

(Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Tajuan Estrella dodges his opponents. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Tajuan Estrella, right, is open for the pass. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
(Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
(Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Cason Tripp and Jared Morin both play for Dartmouth High's basketball team. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
Jared Morin, middle, readies for the free-throw shot. (Photo by: Angie Hilsman)
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