The Times West Virginian


June 14, 2014

FSU camp helps athletes grow together

FAIRMONT — Sometimes all you need in life is a chance.

When given the opporunity to gain a sponsorship from the Times West Virginian, four local athletes attended Fairmont State’s Individual Skills camp that ran from Tuesday to Friday this week.

For Zyon Dobbs, Dre Hodges, Patrick Laxton and Caleb Walker, the week was a blast as they continued to improve their basketball skills in hopes of becoming better friends and athletes in the future.

“I think it’s fantastic that we all get a chance to meet the new players and to get some of the college guys to look at us for future scholarships,” Hodges said. “We were here to have fun.”

And that’s what they did all week, participating in various drills and activities as well as playing in a league made of up teams they chose in the beginning of the week.

Those league games ended on the final day with one camper’s highlight of the week.

“The championship game,” Walker said, smiling.

Other highlights included going through the same drills the FSU players go through, meeting new people and getting to know the new FSU players.

Other campers in addition to the four sponsored by the Times West Virginian also received full or partial sponsorships for the week, something FSU assistant coach Joe Mazzulla said is a great thing for the kids and the community.

“We know there are a lot of people who are underprivileged and maybe can’t come to the camp, and we want to do everything in our power to make sure they can get there,” Mazzulla said. “You want to get these kids on campus and see our program and how we treat the community, and we really want to give back to them for the four days. It’s really good for the Times West Virginian and other businesses to help those kids out.”

The camp was not only beneficial for young campers but those working the camp — the FSU players.

“It’s something our guys need to realize. They’re role models in the community,” Mazzulla said. “A lot of Division II programs don’t have that luxury and that opportunity.”

Just as the incoming FSU players are meshing together, the week was about growing together for the campers as well.

This go-around, Mazzulla said the camp turned out better than ones he’s seen in the past.

“We’ve worked a lot of camps and these campers were very coachable and focused,” he said. “They were always communicating and talking. That’s something you don’t see during a lot of camps with a lot of kids who aren’t familiar with each other.”

As for the camp participants? Their biggest takeaway is something that will help them over the next few seasons as they gear up for high school.

“It’s good because we’ll all be trying out for a varsity team so we’ll have that team chemistry. It’s going to be a good year knowing that we’re all working hard together,” Hodges said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Email Matt Welch at or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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