Sealy girls’ basketball coach Anthony Branch held a basketball camp earlier this summer that was the first time during his tenure with just girls in attendance.
The camp was for girls from second grade through incoming ninth graders and 85 players participated in the two-day camp.
"We were able to teach fundamentals and work on shooting, one-on-one skills and three-on-three competition," Branch said. "It was really good with all the coaches there from the school. All the girls’ basketball coaches were there. I was pleased with the turnout, we had a huge number of the eighth and ninth graders this year. I thought they did a good job of coming out and being there and wanting be a part of basketball and learn what we're teaching in basketball."
Branch's goal for the camp was to make it affordable and get as many of the girls involved so they could get an idea of what to expect when they get to high school. His goal is to have 100 players in attendance next summer.
"I wanted to give them a glimpse of who I am, even though I'm going on year three," Branch said. "I just wanted to give them a brief idea of what our program is about, what I'm going to teach and how we're going to play. Give them the skills necessary to be a good basketball player."
Branch liked what he saw for the future of the Lady Tigers basketball program.
"We had big freshman group and some seniors going out so I think some of these kids are going to be stepping in in the future," Branch said. "The eighth graders next year, I like what they have. We have a couple classes that are pretty good for the next couple years. I'm pretty excited about what I have in the future. It should be a fun group to coach in the future here at Sealy."
Some of the players stay involved in summer leagues and play on AAU teams to keep their skills sharp and Branch encourages them to play as much as they can in the offseason.
"That's one of the great things about being close to Katy, there is Sugar Land and Cypress," Branch said. "There is an opportunity, if kids want to go, we want them there. If you want to have an opportunity to play at the next level you need to go do this. But, more importantly, play as many sports as you can for your school."
Summer leagues can offer good experiences for the players that might want to improve. But, Branch said the teams often have new teammates that come and go and can lack the cohesive team atmosphere that can be found in high school sports.
"For the school, you're playing with your friends from the school that you've grown up with," he said. "You're playing for your school and your community. You're actually playing for something, for championships. I stress that it's important to play as many sports as you can. You only get one opportunity. If you're good enough to play at the next level, you need to play as many sports as you can. There is no replacement for competition. You can't replace it. All the offseason stuff is great, but competition breeds winning. You have to be in competitive situations to breed a winning attitude."
Being at a smaller school gives athletes an opportunity to contribute in several sports unlike the bigger Class 5A and Class 6A schools. Branch said those experiences last a lifetime and students often regret not being more involved when they have the opportunity.
"We talk to them about representing their school and it's important to me that they play as much as they can and enjoy it," Branch said. "The four years goes by fast and it's over. If you're lucky enough to play again and continue that's great, but most of them are going to school, getting a job and possibly have families. It goes by quick and it's over. You don't get to do it again. I talk to my former players and they say I should've done more or done this. Don't wait and think you have plenty of time, because you don't."