Throughout much of the school year, the gymnasium at the Grace Christian Academy in Waldorf is often filled with kids of various age groups looking to hone their skills in a number of different sports.
But during this past week at Grace Christian, the school gymnasium was buzzing with activity from the morning and well into the late afternoon hours as the school hosted its annual summer basketball camps. Athletic director and camp director Brian Deschaine and assistant coach Jordan Williams, a Grace Christian alum, guided 26 players through various drills and then oversaw full-court scrimmages that comprised the last hour of each day.
“We had a good turnout this summer,” said Deschaine, heading into his fourth year as director of student affairs. “We decided to split the days in half so that all the kids would not be dragging at the end of the day when we ran the scrimmages. It was a very good group of coachable kids. Some of them will be here in the fall, but others will be looking to play at other schools.”
One of the campers who will be returning to Grace Christian in the fall is Kevin Saunders, a rising senior who was part of the Knights’ title run in the Mid-Eastern Regional Christian Schools Tournament last winter. Saunders, who also runs outdoor track for the school, admitted the drills for the camp were tough but beneficial as he looks to hone his shooting skills before the upcoming season.
“The coaches keep telling me to work on my left-handed shooting,” said Saunders, who plans to attend either Liberty University (Va.) or George Mason and begin majoring in aviation administration one year from now. “The camp was very competitive this summer. We got a lot of good coaching and we worked a lot on fundamentals and shooting.”
In fact, Deschaine noted that the first two hours of each day was dedicated to fundamentals then the coaches and campers would take a break to discuss the five main points of the camp — community, character, being coachable, being team first players and discipline.
“Our five traits that we preach to the kids every day are not just about basketball, but can help you become a better person and help you succeed in life,” Deschaine said. “Having Jordan here as my assistant and knowing that he’s a former player here helps the kids realize what it takes to succeed. He’s been helping me all summer for the last four years and he could probably run the camp by himself if I couldn’t make it.”
Nathan Royster, a rising sophomore at Grace Christian, spent much of the 2016-17 season with the junior varsity squad before being promoted to varsity for the postseason. Royster did not get much playing time when the Knights made their bids for Metro Independent Schools Athletic League and later the MERCS title, but he expects that following the camps he should arrive ready for play once the 2017-18 season gets under way.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Royster said of the camps. “We spent a lot of time on fundamentals and other drills. But, for the most part I thought it went well. I didn’t get to play much on varsity. But we had a lot of good seniors last year. I expect to make varsity again and this year get more playing time.”
DeSean Estep spent the previous two seasons on the varsity squad at Chopticon High School in neighboring St. Mary’s County and plans to enroll at Grace Christian this year after his family relocates to Waldorf. Estep, a rising senior, believed the week-long camp was beneficial in numerous ways.
“It was good because we spent a lot of time on fundamentals,” said Estep, who also played baseball for Chopticon. “We did a lot of drills early in the day then we finished by running scrimmages. It was fun to get out and play some games at the end of the day. I’m hoping to come here in the fall and be part of the basketball team in the winter.”
Waldorf resident Tyler Doersom, a rising freshman at DeMatha High School in Prince George’s County after graduating from St. Mary’s Bryantown last spring, enjoyed the coaching and participating in the drills. Doersom also admits that he has a good portion of his playing career mapped out well beyond the next four years at DeMatha.
“I thought the coaches here were incredible,” Doersom said. “Jordan can really shoot and he taught me a lot about shooting. Coach Brian really stresses the fundamentals and the bonding and fellowship of the players. Last year when I was here I was nervous because I didn’t know how well I would fit it. But this year was great. I can’t wait to play for DeMatha and in college and then someday in the NBA.”