Jeff Quackenbush’s teams rarely use a full-court press.
As an athletic director, however, Quackenbush recently implemented one. Before the end of this past school year, Quackenbush took current high school students to the Newark middle schools to promote the athletic department’s summer camps and conditioning programs.
“Our goal as an athletic department is to get kids involved in the summer,” Quackenbush said. “We have everything from wrestling camps, boys and girls basketball, football. Every sport is doing something in the summer.”
Quackenbush also sent a packet of information to be distributed at the elementary schools. He has one of the school’s most popular camps as the boys basketball program’s Cat Camp fills the high school and auxiliary gymnasiums for a week each June.
The camp is aimed to connect with the area’s best players, but also with the newest. The camp mixes fundamental teaching sessions to competitions, including 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 scrimmages.
“The goal is to show them all of those different skills and drills to work on,” Quackenbush said. “We try to give every kid a basketball, and they can go use that to work on those skills themselves.”
Newark wrestling coach Jose Martinez had an ambitious goal of developing one of the best camps in central Ohio. So far, so good.
Martinez had a variety of packages for youths and high school students, and the most popular was an intensive two-week camp in early June. The camp cost $200, but Martinez had a different head instructor each day with the highlight being a visit from Ohio State coach Tom Ryan.
“We came in at the low-cost end,” Martinez said. “No other camp has that price for a different technician each day. I tried to keep it cheap. For those who did the two weeks, $200 was a lot. But at the same time, I tried to break it down where per day that was one of the cheapest and best values they could see anywhere.”
At the end of Martinez’s camp, he organized an individual tournament for the youths, many of whom wrestle for Newark’s entry in the Licking County Youth Wrestling League during the winter. The high school students, which included a handful of campers from Licking Valley and Granville, too, competed in a dual tournament at Ashland.
“I was trying to bring good technicians in and add a competition component,” Martinez said. “The individual tournament allowed them to wrestle live competition. In the duals, we saw teams from all over the state. On top of getting technique, they actually got to apply it.”
Cost is something at the forefront of Quackenbush’s mind. Cognizant of the addition of activities fees in 2007, he lowered his Cat Camp cost from $65 to $40.
Newark eliminated its fees in 2012, but Quackenbush kept his price constant.
“As we tell all of the kids for all of the sports, if you want to come to camp but you don’t think that you can afford it, call the coach and we will take care of it,” Quackenbush said. “I think we have done a good job of that.”
In the end, only one thing matters to Quackenbush. If kids in Newark are playing sports during the summer, he has done his job.
“The key is to get kids involved when they are young,” Quackenbush said. “If a kid enjoys it, they are going to practice. It doesn’t matter what sport it is.”