Youngstarz learn to shine

Published 6:55 pm Saturday, July 4, 2015

A group of award-winning participants from the 11th annual Youngstarz basketball camp gather to showcase their hardware with Nansemond River boys’ basketball coach Ed Young, center in back, at the conclusion of the camp on Thursday at Nansemond River High School.

A group of award-winning participants from the 11th annual Youngstarz basketball camp gather to showcase their hardware with Nansemond River boys’ basketball coach Ed Young, center in back, at the conclusion of the camp on Thursday at Nansemond River High School.

The Youngstarz basketball camp proved once again that the opportunity to learn during the summer break can draw a crowd.

“It was great, absolutely great,” Nansemond River boys’ basketball coach Ed Young said of the 11th annual edition of his camp.

There ended up being a total of 68 rising third- through eighth-graders learning and refining basketball skills at Nansemond River this past week.


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“We didn’t lose anybody, nobody stayed home after the first day,” Young said. In fact, during the course of the camp’s Monday-through-Thursday run, “We picked up a couple of extra kids.”

Though a number of campers were from Suffolk, others came from a variety of places, including Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Richmond, North Carolina and Maryland.

Young said participants from the most distant locations were young people who happened to be visiting with a nearby relative for the week, except for Tracey Pittman. His family makes sure he’s in Suffolk for the camp, and this is his fifth year coming up from North Carolina.

As has been the trademark of Youngstarz, campers got far more than just an opportunity to play 5-on-5 basketball.

“We kind of keep it very basic because I want the kids to have fun, but my number one thing is, can they learn some things?” Young said. “I want them to learn.”

Each morning, campers cycled through seven different stations covering subjects like dribbling, passing/catching, shooting, rebounding/post moves, defense, team offensive concepts and team defensive concepts.

To help hone skills, 1-on-1, 2-on-3 and 3-on-3 sessions were held, in addition to the 5-on-5 games that ended each day.

A “hot shot” competition gave participants one minute to try to make shots from different pre-marked spots on the floor, and there was also a foul-shooting competition.

Campers got to watch Nansemond River team videos, NBA highlights and bloopers, and Young gave campers a small taste of what it will be like if they play when they are older by coaching them via a brief film session.

Later, former Nansemond River assistant and current Western Branch High School boys’ head coach Paul Hall worked with a group of campers on the gym’s full court. Meanwhile, Young had another group in the classroom, teaching them about being a better student and person, covering subjects like respect, goal-setting and being thankful.

The young people seemed to enjoy the camp a great deal.

“It was really fun,” said Suffolk Christian Academy rising sixth-grader Howie Harris, who was named Camper of the Week.

“It was a good experience for me,” said John Yeates Middle School rising seventh-grader Luke Williamson as he held his trophy he received for being named Camp Outstanding Player. “Getting this trophy shows how much work I’ve put in over a few years.”

Nansemond Parkway Elementary School rising fifth-grader Janajah Artis, who was named Top Female Camper, said she loved the camp a lot.

“They taught me about my techniques, and they helped me a lot on my left hand, and all of the coaches are great,” she said.

Among the things Harris learned, he said, “Before when I was laying up, I would shoot right under the basket, but now I know that you can take two steps before you shoot.”

Williamson noted, “I learned how to pass the ball more and how to keep my head up while I’m dribbling.”

Young again recruited former and current players to help coach participants, including Ashton Moore, Sterling Peden, Matt Allmond, Josh Covington, Darius Jones, Randall Dixon, Colby Williams, Nate Foster, DeAngelo Ruffin and Jarret Henderson.

Covington, a former Youngstarz camper, said helping coach the young people “was good because I remember about third grade, this is where I started playing basketball at, so it feels good to be able to help them out and teach them something I learned.”

Young hopes to gain some sponsors next year to improve the camp for participants and their families, possibly by allowing him to lower the cost or by allowing him to add a second week.

For companies interested in sponsoring the Youngstarz basketball camp, contact Young at

Following are the 11th annual Youngstarz basketball camp award winners:

Camper of the Week — Howie Harris (Suffolk Christian Academy)

Camp Outstanding Player — Luke Williamson (John Yeates Middle School)

Top Female Camper — Janajah Artis (Nansemond Parkway Elementary School)

Top Scholar-Athlete — Myles Bernard (John Yeates), 4.0 GPA and Brett Hartgernick (Northern Shores Elementary School), 4.0 GPA

All-Camp Scholar Team — Claire Askew (Isle of Wight Academy), Myles Bernard (John Yeates), Joe Askew (Isle of Wight), Brett Hartgernick (Northern Shores), Jack McGee (John Yeates), Tracey Pittman (North East Carolina Preparatory School, N.C.), Howie Harris (Suffolk Christian), Briley Scott (Sweethaven Christian Academy), Amaya Allen (Hillpoint Elementary School), Lorenzo Dominguez (Driver Elementary School), Mason Windley (Northern Shores) and Tyler Jones (John Yeates).

All-Camp Team — Tyler Jones (John Yeates), Claire Askew (Isle of Wight), Kaden Ewing (Norfolk Collegiate School), Omarion Branch (John Yeates), Ryan Smith (Westhaven Elementary School), Kate Holland (Isle of Wight), Myles Bernard (John Yeates), Howie Harris (Suffolk Christian), Luke Williamson (John Yeates), Janajah Artis (Nansemond Parkway).

Hustle award — Robert “Buddy” Baker (Isle of Wight) and Charlie “Trey” Chapman (Driver)

Station award — Kayden Walden (Pioneer Elementary School) and Amaya Allen (Hillpoint)

Top Playmaker —Mason Windley (Northern Shores) and Myles Bernard (John Yeates)

Top Defender — Jaden Hall (Creekside Elementary School) and Omarion Branch (John Yeates)

Top Rebounder — Zach Bell (Hillpoint) and Tyler Jones (John Yeates)

Most Improved — Spencer Newsome (Hillpoint) and Justin Hamlin (Forest Glen Middle School)

Best Teammate — Koran Hunter (Nansemond Parkway) and Caleb Olds (John Yeates)

1-On-1 Champ — Ayden Judge (Driver) and Omarion Branch (John Yeates)

Hot Shot Shooter — Kamren Robinson (Creekside) and Myles Bernard (John Yeates)

Top Foul-Shooter — Kamren Robinson (Creekside) and Myles Bernard (John Yeates)

Special Recognition Award — Nathaniel Barnes (Nansemond Parkway)