Hard work on and off court fo­cus of QA’s hoops camp

Record Observer - - Sports - By WIL­LIAM HAUFE bhaufe@star­dem.com

CENTREVILLE — Play time had been stopped.

Yes, the Be FUN­da­MEN­TAL bas­ket­ball camp at Queen Anne’s County High in early July was about fun­da­men­tals — pass­ing, driv­ing, shoot­ing, drib­bling, and hav­ing fun.

But now, with the fi­nal day of camp wind­ing down, it was again time to drive home the im­por­tance of hard work to a group of about 30 campers rang­ing from ele­men­tary to high school ages splayed out near half-court.

“I think that was one thing that we stressed; that none of this hap­pens with­out hard work,” said camp co­or­di­na­tor Natasha Wright, a 1991 grad­u­ate of Queen Anne’s. “And even if you put that hard work in you might not nec­es­sar­ily make it to the NBA, or make it to a Di­vi­sion I col­lege to play bas­ket­ball. Be­cause some of these speak­ers didn’t. And they put in the work just like ev­ery­body else. We wanted them to see both sides of that.”

Last year’s in­au­gu­ral camp

fea­tured for­mer Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land stars Walt Wil­liams and Tony Massen­burg — who each played in the NBA — and Byron Mou­ton, a mem­ber of the Terps’ 2002 na­tional cham­pi­onship team. Each of­fered their per­spec­tives on var­i­ous points on and off the court.

This year’s coach­ing lineup had more of an Eastern Shore fla­vor, though the mes­sage re­mained the same — achieve­ment comes through hard work.

The tallest, and per­haps most fa­mil­iar face to campers, was 2012 Queen Anne’s grad­u­ate Da­monte Dodd, a 6-foot11, 250-pound for­ward who is set to play his fi­nal sea­son for the Uni­ver­sity of Mar yland.

“Be­ing at the age they are, I’m sure it’s an in­spi­ra­tion to see some­one from this town that is play­ing at the high level that I’m play­ing at,” Dodd said. “Just com­ing back, I al­ways try to keep in the back of my mind this is for a good cause. I just try and tell them, ‘Work hard. What­ever you are try­ing to do in life, work hard at it be­cause you can def­i­nitely achieve it.’”

Dodd also served as a big ex­am­ple of how hard work can help get some­one where they want to go. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Queen Anne’s, the Centreville res­i­dent spent a year at the Mas­sanut­ten Mil­i­tary Academy, where he de­vel­oped into one of the na­tion’s top big man prospects be­fore head­ing to Col­lege Park.

“It’s cool com­ing back and just try­ing to be an in­spi­ra­tion for these kids and just telling them they can do some­thing,” Dodd con­tin­ued. “There’s not a lot of peo­ple you see here make it out into the (ath­letic world). There’s a lot of suc­cess­ful doc­tors and stuff, but athletics? It’s very rare. Most kids grow­ing up they want to be ath­letes; that’s their goal. Any­thing we can do to help these kids do that, that’s the goal. I’m will­ing to help.”

Like any sport camp, pro­vid­ing young play­ers the help to bet­ter their play was an em­pha­sis. Wright, Dodd, camp co­or­di­na­tor Wadell Wright, who at­tended Sal­is­bury Uni­ver­sity, and for­mer long­time Colonel Richardson boys’ head bas­ket­ball coach Mer­rill Mor­gan were among the speak­ers em­pha­siz­ing the value of hard work through­out the week.

Then there was Shawn Tucker, a grad­u­ate of Park­side, where he played un­der for­mer Rams head coach Andy Hall, be­fore head­ing to Sal­is­bury Uni­ver­sity.

“Does ev­ery­one make the shot?” Tucker asked campers. “No. So you go get the ball. You out-jump the other guy.”

Tucker said he wasn’t very good when he first started play­ing, but through a mantra of prepa­ra­tion, ded­i­ca­tion and mo­ti­va­tion, he be­came a bet­ter player.

“You’ve got to out­work that per­son,” Tucker said. “And that’s any­thing in life. You’ve got to work harder than the next per­son. Be­cause ev­ery­body’s out there try­ing to achieve the same goal that you are. If you don’t want to do the work some­body else is go­ing to get that po­si­tion.”

Tucker worked hard at im­prov­ing his game, and af­ter a year at Sal­is­bury, trans­ferred to the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore with in­ten­tions of con­tin­u­ing his ca­reer on the hard­wood. Those plans — and the idea of some­day play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally — ended though when Tucker suf­fered a bro­ken foot.

But that didn’t stop him from work­ing to­ward other goals.

“That is one of the fo­cuses when I’m talk­ing to kids; use bas­ket­ball as your ve­hi­cle,” said Tucker, who will do 10 to 25 speak­ing en­gage­ments dur­ing the sum­mer, and is an as­sis­tant with the Park­side girls’ bas­ket­ball team. “It was my ve­hi­cle to get my de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion. Even though I didn’t live out my dream of mak­ing it to the NBA, I was able to use bas­ket­ball to at­tain a col­lege de­gree; a cou­ple of them.” Fol­low me on Twit­ter @ Bil­l_Haufe. Email me at

bhaufe@star­dem.com

PHOTO BY WIL­LIAM HAUFE

Like most of the camp coach­ing staff, Shawn Tucker em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of hard work on and off the court.

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