Hard work on and off court focus of QA’s hoops camp
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
Like most of the camp coaching staff, Shawn Tucker emphasized the importance of hard work on and off the court.