Youth league is a 'slam dunk' for community

Kids learn basketball and life skills
By: Michelle Miller-Carl Journal News Editor
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Auburn Recreation District youth basketball coach Cameron Wilkins says working with the young ladies on The Jaguars changed his life. ARD Sports Coordinator Jerry Fischer first approached Wilkins a couple years ago to see if he would coach the fourth-grade girl’s basketball team in the district’s Youth Development League. “Not having any children of my own, I was weighing out the challenges that were ahead of me,” Wilkins said. “It took all of two days for me to say ‘yes.’ Little did I know how this decision would change my life.” Once at the helm, Wilkins had to figure out what fundamental skills the girls had. Passing, dribbling and shooting drills showed him who could handle the ball, but Wilkins kept it fun by introducing random challenges. He would have the players see how many baskets they could make in a row or divide them into teams and see who could dribble down the lane the fastest. He was also able to work with players individually, helping them advance their skills. In the process, he developed friendships with the girls. “I always look forward to my days at work to end because I would be so excited to spend the next part of my day coaching and spending time with the team,” Wilkins said. “Since I have coached the Jaguars, we have laughed, we’ve cried, we have experienced buzzer beaters, we took trips to 7-Eleven for Slurpees, and we worked together to have a float for the Auburn Lights Parade.” Fisher, who also coaches the Jaguars, said the league is looking for new players and is always in need of coaches. “I haven’t seen anything more satisfying as being part of a child’s life and teaching them,” he said. “There’s so much more in basketball than winning games. Sportsmanship, camaraderie, and other life lessons you learn are a huge part of sports.” Wilkins will enter his third season coaching the now-sixth grader on the Jaguars when the Youth Development League starts practice in December. “I would encourage any parent who may be looking for a program to have their child participate in, take the time to consider doing what it takes to join a Auburn Recreational Basketball Team,” Wilkins said. “All of the coaches have the same goals for their team. It’s a slam-dunk for the community.” Michelle Miller-Carl can be reached at ---------- ARD Youth Development League Youth Basketball What: Youth league for 3rd through 8th grade boys and girls When: Registration deadline is Oct. 16; practice starts the beginning of December with league games going from January to March. Sign-ups: Visit or call the ARD customer service office at (530) 885-8461. Cost: $100 per player, $105 for out-of-district players (scholarships are available to those who qualify)