Shawn Zargarian’s Falcon Basketball Camp invites youngsters to learn the game and have fun
By Brandon HENSLEY
When he took over the Falcons boys’ basketball program in the middle of the last decade, Shawn Zargarian said he was too overwhelmed to hold a summer basketball camp his first year.
But Zargarian seems to be in control of his surroundings these days. He’s the coach of a program that has had three consecutive 20-win seasons, and he’s about to complete the sixth year of his successful annual summer camp, held at Crescenta Valley High School.
“It’s not that you have to,” said Zargarian on his responsibilities of holding a camp. “I would say it’s one of the perks of being a head coach here.”
He follows the footsteps of former Falcon coaches John Goffredo and Jim Smiley, who held camps while they were varsity coaches. Zargarian, a former CV player and assistant coach under Smiley, said he models his camps after his predecessors.
“What I’ve done is we try to go with stations in the morning, and fundamentals, and then in the afternoon we try to do a lot of scrimmages,” he said. “The kids love to play five-on-five. We have some competitions, some guest speakers here and there. That pretty much takes up the day. It goes by pretty quickly.”
The camp, for ages 7 to 13, lasts a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is held every late July. Zargarian said he gets from 80 to 90 campers annually – this week was no different. This year there are two campers who are 6 years old, and Zargarian doesn’t mind as long as they can keep up with their peers. He said he gets fulfillment from watching the youngest ones.
“Part of it is watching the little guys and girls, the 6, 7, 8-year-olds who are just learning the game, you know, watching them develop,” he said.
Guest speakers include CV alum Matt Oliver, who played ball at Azusa Pacific University. Oliver usually shows up on Fridays of the camp.
The coaches that help out are mostly all from the Falcon family. Sophomore coach Mark Samford is there, as are several players from last year’s CV team, including Davis Dragovich.
“The most challenging part is trying to get them to listen to you all at the same time,” said Dragovich, who used to participate in Smiley’s camps. “They want to do their own thing.”
The campers’ favorite part of the day is the scrimmaging. Journey Shank, 13, said he likes to take the fundamentals he learns during the day and apply that knowledge when he plays games.
“I like to push the ball up the floor,” said Shank, who goes to school in Burbank but is considering attending CV High.
Shank’s age group is coached this week by Eric Strangis, a former Falcon who played ball at USC, and graduated this spring.
“He likes my game,” said Shank of Strangis. “He’s a good coach. He encourages me to work my hardest.”
Zargarian said he enjoys watching the kids that have been in his camps for several years return the next year, bigger and more improved. He does keep an eye on players who have potential to play in his program when they reach high school, although that’s not the reason for holding these camps.
“It’s more of a fun week,” he said. “I do like watching eighth graders a little bit, because I know they’re going to come up next year. We do see some talent there.”
The focus though, is learning more about basketball and having fun.
“It’s always nice when at the end of the week the campers and their parents come up and tell you they had a great time,” he said.
Summer League Wrap
The Falcons’ varsity team recently finished up a successful summer league campaign, going 23-10. After last season ended, the Falcons faced a challenge this summer with how to integrate many new pieces to a team that saw four of its starters graduate in June.
Junior guard Nick Springer has caught Zargarian’s eye for his play, and not just for scoring points but also his rebounding prowess.
“Nick Springer went from not playing at all to being one of our main focal points of the offense,” Zargarian said. “We really did a good job. We scored a lot of points, our defensive energy was good. We’re very optimistic now going into next year.”
Point guard Cole Currie, who will be a senior, is the only returning starter from the team that qualified for the state playoffs. Zargarian said forwards Elliot Wilson and Kris Jabourian played well this summer, and if they can keep it up, that should take pressure off of Cole.
“We understand and Cole understands there will be nights where he’s going to be face-guarded, he’ll be double-teamed and he’s got to trust his teammates,” Zargarian said.
Players get the entire month of August off, and when school returns the team will play fall games every Saturday before the season starts in the winter. August is a time when Zargarian knows players lose a bit of their conditioning.
“I’d say 90% of the guys are out of shape,” he said. “Their shot might be better, their ball-handling might be better, but they’re pretty much out of shape.”