By Brandon HENSLEY
While the little guys were receiving their medals and recognition for a job well done, the big boys started filing into the gym, observing the last few minutes of camp in the front row of the bleachers.
There was Cole Currie and Christian Misi, two former Crescenta Valley High School players who led their teams to CIF semifinals appearances. There was also Cole’s younger brother Kyle, a hot-shot guard who graduated in June. Later on, it was 2010 alum Nick Dragovich who walked into the gym.
Those guys were ready to play on the court after another year of Coach Shawn Zargarian’s summer basketball camp had dispersed. But first, Coach Z put the spotlight on Cole. Zargarian was about to hand out the award for Camper of the Week. The winner not would not only receive a trophy, but a Cole Currie dark blue road jersey from when he played.
“If I was you I would go over there and ask Cole to sign it as fast as I could,” Zargarian said, which made Cole, who currently plays for the University of the Pacific, chuckle uncomfortably. Seconds later, Zargarian called out the name of Jonathan Martin, and sure enough, when camp ended, he walked over to Cole and had the jersey signed.
“He’s always so positive and such a great teammate,” Zargarian said of Martin afterward. “He’s very energetic, cheers on his teammates in everything. The award is not a basketball thing so much, just him being a great kid.”
Zargarian, the varsity coach of the Falcon program, addressed the parents who showed up for the awards, and told them this had been one of the best camps he’s hosted because all of the kids were so well-behaved, as well as being energetic and eager to learn more about the game of basketball.
They certainly had good teachers. Each age group, ranging from 7 to 13, had either current CV coaches and players or former players teach them the basics of dribbling with their head up, and the nuances of proper spacing during a half-court set.
The week-long camp was not only fun for players, it was a blast for varsity assistant coach DoVall Boykins. While Boykins has been by Zargarian’s side for a decade during the season, this was his first time as a camp coach, after he asked for time off work from his job as a claims adjuster.
“I think I might have had more fun than the kids did,” said Boykins, who coached the 11 and 12 year olds.
Camp went from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the morning, the kids stretched, participated in contests, and went from station to station to learn more about setting screens, post moves, and shooting. In the afternoon, they scrimmaged. But it wasn’t all carefree. Coaches weren’t afraid to stop play and remind players of how to do things better.
“You see kids who want to be like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. You have to stop and help them understand it’s not about you, it’s about us,” Boykins said. “It’s about the fundamentals – dribbling, keep the ball low, keep your head up, get your feet square.”
“They love to run to the ball, and now you have four guys running to the ball,” Zargarian said of some common mistakes campers make. “You tell the coaches to have them space the floor better. As they get a little older, you teach man-to-man defense.”
Former Falcons coaches John Goffredo, Jim Smiley and Adam Jacobsen all held camps during their tenure as varsity coach. Zargarian said it’s a tradition to hold a camp, and this way he was able to see both his sons participate. Vaughn, 8, played all week and received a medal, while 5-year-old Christian was able to run around on the final day during scrimmages.
“If I get tired of this, it’s probably time for me to stop coaching, but I still have the passion for this,” Zargarian said.
Zargarian is known to be intense during games. But if you’re a current player and you decide to help coach at the camp, like Tadeh Taverdians and Journey Shank did this year, you’ll see a more relaxed side of Coach Z.
“It’s good for the guys to see that side of me … I’m human. I’m light-hearted, I joke around,” Zargarian said.
Boykins knows how to have a good time. Based on his experience this year, he’ll probably be asking for more time off work next July.
“I had 10 kids who really didn’t know each other, and we came together and played as a team,” Boykins said. “I took every concept from the program and implemented it here. I think that’s what made it successful, doing it as a family, and that’s what we are at CV, is one big family.”