Behind the scenes at big events

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, June 8, 2010

There are a couple very entertaining events for sports fans, even those without any allegiance to a Suffolk school or individual athlete, coming up within the next few weeks.

Nansemond River Golf Club is hosting the Virginia State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship June 22-25.

If you love golf and get a couple free hours one of those days, you’ll enjoy watching the best junior players putt, drive, think and even hit a 3-iron the way it’s supposed to be done.

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The other unique event you can take in all on one Saturday. The Peanut City Shootout will be played June 26 for the fourth year at King’s Fork High School.

The Shootout’s is a 7-on-7 passing-game tournament with 24 high school teams in action and each team getting at least four games.

Officially, it’s more of a coaching tool for the offseason. The action gets as competitive as a Friday night though. It’s a great football fix for anyone waiting anxiously for September.

Later this month is another annual summer event, the Youngstarz Basketball Camp at Nansemond River started by NR head boys basketball coach Ed Young six years ago.

The camp is open to the kids in the second through seventh grades. Other than maybe for parents picking up their kids at the end of the day, it’s not a spectator event.

Basketball skills and fundamentals are valuable parts of the camp. Coach Young also includes sessions on classroom habits and character. It’s a basketball camp, and it’s a fun, fast-paced camp, but there’s more to it.

A big reason is the Warrior players, past and current, Young has as camp coaches. For an 8-year-old, a high school player they’ve seen in action can be a role model.

I was in the stands — not working, simply watching (and not rooting for ODU, despite where I’m headed with this) — at the CAA basketball tournament in March.

On the first day of the tournament, Old Dominion had a bye, but the Monarchs were in the stands watching the game scouting their opponent in the next round.

NR ’08 alum Nick Wright and a couple other Monarch players were approached by a kid, around 8 or 9. He asked them to sign a basketball, still in the box, that he’d apparently just bought from the Richmond Coliseum concourse.

Wright and his teammates autographed the ball and were talking with the kid. A minute later, Wright started organizing the whole ODU team to sign the ball, which meant Wright had to track down a couple teammates from other parts of the arena.

At past Youngstarz camps, Wright always combined an ability to lead and teach a group with being a cool, exciting, 6-foot-8 playmate for 10-15 third-graders at a time. Being a teacher, while still just in high school himself, didn’t turn Wright into a friendly, personable guy. It’s clear from just a couple minutes with him that it’s naturally who he is.

The experience Wright and the rest of Young’s varsity players get for a week each summer doesn’t hurt, though.

And if no one is in the bleachers watching at the camp, it’s better off that way. Wright definitely made a nice play while no one was watching.