East Hall High opened its gymnasium doors to the community’s children this week, all in an effort to nourish the program’s passion for basketball and further cultivate the fluid relationship.
Dressed in their black and gold jerseys, the Vikings varsity team embodied transcendent beings to the fourth-eighth grade students on hand for the camp, smiling in awe.
“This week has been such a positive week for our kids and our program,” boys head coach Seth Vining said. “...They’re all our players, they’re here helping, giving back to the community. They have been great. I can’t say anything but good things about what our players are doing.”
The East Hall community has long been a basketball community, and every summer this camp works to tighten their bond with the high school. That alone was one of Vining’s greatest joys when he envisioned coming out of retirement to coach the Vikings once more.
“Basketball is very important to the community,” he said. “It’s always fun to coach when what you’re doing means a lot to a lot of people. From that standpoint, it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
When Vining decided to return to coaching after retiring six years ago, the outpouring of support humbled the 67-year-old. People across East Hall were reaching out left and right, congratulating the legendary instructor.
More congratulations are in order for Vining during the East Hall alumni reunion games on July 16, as the event falls in line with the coach's 68th birthday.
Though many of his current players have no recollection of Vining’s original tenure as East Hall’s boys coach during 1993-2004 (as most were not born yet), the older generations never forgot.
TJ Campbell took notes from his father Tony Cambell, who played for Vining in the mid-1990s, on what to expect from the new coach. Tony responded emphatically, “Run!”
“He likes to make (his players) run a lot, and thank God, he hasn’t made us run as much as what my dad has told me,” TJ said. “But in the season, we’re probably going to run a lot.
“He told me overall, he’s one of the best coaches you’ll ever have. He’s a really good coach, great person.”
TJ is one of many East Hall athletes who help bridge the age gap within the basketball community, and one that makes this yearly camp successful — many of the campers he’s known since they were babies.
“It helps us build the program, build a relationship within the community, with all the kids,” he said. ”We get to know them so that when they come out to the games, they’ll be like, ‘Hey, I know you.’ It builds a good community.”
So far, the kids have responded well to the daily drills and instruction. Vining said that everyone brought great enthusiasm, along with a willingness to be coached.
He hopes that the camp will help fuel their love for the game of basketball and motivate them to practice at home.
“That’s the purpose of camp to motivate young players, continue to work hard, and continue to work on their game,” Vining said. “If we accomplish that, then we’ve done what we want to do.”