By: Kirk Jessome
The life of a student-athlete is not always an easy one. They often have to forego the opportunity of employment during the school year in order to dedicate their time to the performance that is necessary both on and off the field or court, as well as giving up extra time to be involved in the community. So for most athletes, the only time they are able to save money is during the summer, but so many of these athletes are continuing to give back to the community every summer by way of helping the next generation of athletes.
Every summer, more than 2,000 youth flood into the Dalplex and a couple of rinks around the city, with hopes of becoming better at their respective sports, and every summer, coaches and athletes of Tigers varsity teams are there to greet them.
One of the contributors to those camps is men’s basketball coach Rick Plato, who most days can be found at the main entrance of Dalplex greeting athletes and parents as they arrive each morning.
“The purpose of our camp programming is to develop the skills of these kids who want to get better and be coached by some of the most elite student-athletes in the province,” says Plato, “Especially the Nova Scotians. These guys are role models for the kids, showing that you don’t have to be from Montreal or Toronto to be one of the best in the country.”
To Plato, these camps are about much more than just basketball for these young athletes.
“It’s not just about learning the game and being active, it’s about learning to socialize, compete, and deal with the ups and downs of competition. Some of the kids are very shy and don’t always get to play with their friends, but they meet new people and learn to be outgoing at a younger age, and those aspects are almost more important than the basketball aspect of it.”
For the Tigers players who work camps, it’s a chance to be even more involved with the community, and to learn by teaching.
“When our student-athletes are coaching, they have to be leaders, and that is part of my expectation of them while they are my players. I want them to leave here being able to manage groups of people and be leaders in their community.”
He spoke specifically of basketball, but Plato’s final thoughts are applied by all sport camps that are offered by the Tigers.
“When you take a look at the big picture, these camps are so multi-dimensional. It’s not just about basketball anymore. It’s about developing the whole person, and that means in the classroom, on the court, and in your daily life.”
The Tigers offer a wide range of sport-specific camps including basketball, hockey, swimming, soccer and volleyball. The new multi-sport camp, run by track and field head coach Rich Lehman focuses physical literacy, fundamental movement skills and fostering a love of physical activity and movement. Youth athletes of all ages and skill levels are able to directly learn from the athletes they look up to, whether it is on the ice, court, field, or in the pool.
Registration is now open for the Tigers basketball and climbing PD day camps!