BRAWLEY – Imperial Valley kids filled the gym at Gateway Church in Brawley as organizers kicked off the 5th annual Day of Hoops three-day basketball camp June 28, eager to learn what they could from the coaches and at the same time, honor a fallen Brawley hero who loved basketball.
The camp is hosted by Coach Phil Grant, former head coach of the Brawley Union High School basketball team, Rahshan Overton, a former player and current assistant BUHS girl’s coach, and in coordination with current and past members of the high school team.
At the camp, children learned the basics of the game. Grant originally began hosting camps in 1992 in Brawley to help up and coming players learn the game of basketball since, from what he saw, there were not many who knew the actual rules and basics, he said.
“Originally it was to help the community learn about basketball and to help the youngster get better at basketball so when they got into junior high and high school, they would be better players,” said Grant.
For three days, the coaches taught kids how to properly dribble, pass, and shoot. This year, over 100 children from ages five to 14 participated in the camp, setting a new record for attendance. Some even learned techniques they did not know before this week.
However, all the attendees came with one important thing in common – a liking for basketball.
“I’m excited to learn more here at the camp,” said participant Jacob Loga.
“I like that you can just pick up a ball and throw a basket,” said Jordynn Rivera. “Learning to dribble was my favorite part.”
Some of Coach Grant’s former players were there to coach the children during the day, such as Marcus Tapia and Mark Rivera. Members of the current BUHS boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were also there mentoring and coaching the children through the camp. Some of the participants were the children of Grant’s former players.
In teaching basketball, Grant uses a system called the Pyramid of Success that was created by Coach John Wooden, the famous head basketball coach of the University of California Los Angeles.
Grant worked with Wooden for several years at his summer camps before coming to Brawley and was inspired by him to start doing his own basketball camps. His biggest hope is that the children have fun, learn, and possibly leave the camp with a friend or two, he said.
The camp is held in honor of Capt. Scott Pace, a Brawley native and West Point graduate who died in combat in 2012 while serving in Afghanistan. Both Pace and his brother Rick were two of Grant’s attendees when they were young.
According to Kathy, his mother, Capt. Pace was hooked after the camp and ended up playing for Grant when he was in high school as well as at West Point, and continued playing while he was in the Army.
Coach Grant said basketball was Capt. Pace’s passion. He said Pace would wear always wear the Brawley blue and gold colors in some form under his military uniform.
“My thinking was, anyone that dedicated should be honored by helping out,” said Grant.
A Day of Hoops was dedicated to Pace after his former high school teammates decided they should do something to honor his name with something he loved.
“It’s was Scott’s passion,” said Kathy Pace. “We’re really grateful, we can’t express how thankful we are for this.”
All proceeds from the camp will go towards the Scott Pace Memorial Scholarship, awarded to high school students of BUHS.