It's summer at Memorial Gym, months before basketball fans get to see the 2006-07 editions of the basketball teams. But last week, the balls were bouncing and shoes were squeaking all day long as the first of the Vanderbilt Girls Basketball Camps of the summer were in session.
The first traditional week-long summer day camp, the Offensive Improvement Camp, took place Monday through Thursday. With college players, including Vanderbilt's Tina Wirth, serving as camp counselors, campers worked on basketball skills in "The Factory" and played lots of games from one-on-one to five-on-five.
Redshirt freshman post Amy Malo, who had to sit out last season because of knee surgery, was back on campus working the camps.
Former 'Dore Hillary Hager, who has been graduate assistant with the women's basketball program for the past two seasons, and recent graduate Erica Grimaldi were the "Commissioners" of the camp.
After the awards ceremony on the last day of camp, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb talked to the campers and showed her appreciation of the spirit of this enthusiastic young supporter of Vanderbilt women's basketball.
The counselors signed autographs and posed for photos at the end of the day on the last day of camp. Most of the autographs are signed on posters or t-shirts, but one camper collected autographs on her shoes, and Tina Wirth added hers to the collection.
The Individual Skills Camp was an innovation this year. Unlike the traditional day camps which provide lots of games of different kinds, the individual skills camps focus on a single set of skills with a lot of individual and small group instruction and practice. This camp consisted of four sessions from 6-8 p.m. in the air-conditioned practice gym. Monday was shooting camp.
Lisa Cermignano, who joined the staff as assistant coach in April, was the lead coach at shooting camp. During the upcoming season, she'll be working with the Vanderbilt guards.
Assistant Coach Stephanie Norman, the recruiting coordinator for women's basketball, also worked all four nights of the Individual Skills Camp.
Although the camp was led by the women's basketball staff, Vanderbilt players, including sophomore Jen Risper, helped with the small groups and demonstrations.
Senior guard Caroline Williams' internship with the Tennessee Titans means long days that begin with strength and conditioning workouts followed by a full day of work at the office and then pickup at the gym. But despite her busy life, she helped with the Guard Skills Camp on Tuesday night.
If the camps had an endurance award, Tina Wirth would be a top candidate for working every camp session during the week, including playing defense during the evening camps.
Assistant Coach Vicky Picott, who works with the Vanderbilt post players, was the lead coach for Post Skills Camp on Wednesday. Once again, Tina played defense while campers practiced their moves.
Junior post Liz Sherwood worked the Post Skills Camp and the morning sessions of the day camp.
Thursday night was Ball Handling Camp, where campers learned a variety of ball-handling drills, skills and techniques.
Two team camps were bookends for the week. The Team Challenge Overnight Camp was held the weekend of June 16-18, and the Team Day Challenge Camp was held on June 24.
Over 40 high school varsity, junior varsity and travel teams attended these camps with their coaches. The team camps provide plenty of opportunities for the coaches to work with their teams in game situations -- and also time for team bonding.
The next set of camps will take place July 17-20 for campers in Grades 3-8. The Skills Development Camp will be held from 9 a.m - 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
There will also be another session of the Individual Skills Camps from 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Once again, Monday is Shooting Camp, Tuesday is Guard Skills Camp, Wednesday is Post skills Camp, and Thursday is Ball Handling camp.
For further information, call the Women's Basketball Office at 615/343-8482 or visit vucommodores.com for online registration.
Photos copyright 2006 by Whitney D for VandyMania.com.