COLUMBIA — Ron Lykins was not going to make the same mistake twice.
The head coach of the Mizzou wheelchair basketball team has been around the sport for about 30 years and was the former U.S. women’s national team coach. But he failed to foresee the immediate importance of hosting a camp last year until it was too late.
Since accepting the head coaching position at MU, a job he calls a “dream position,” in February of 2009, he had always planned to have a basketball camp in the summer of 2010. But when he lost a prized recruit partly because of another school's camp, Lykins decided that something had to be done at once.
In only three months, a one-day camp was planned for the summer of 2009. It was a far cry from what Lykins wanted, but the camp still attracted 15 participants.
“Last year's was real quick, just to get started and really to get us to this point this year,” Lykins said.
Now, using the knowledge gained last year, Mizzou wheelchair basketball is going to do it right this year, according to Lykins. For 2010, the program will hold a multiple-day event, giving Mizzou wheelchair basketball campers the option of staying overnight at the dorms for the first time.
This year's camp, which will run from Sunday through July 15 at Brewer field house in the MU Student Recreation Complex, has been in the planning stages for more than a year, and has attracted 25 participants ages 12 through 19.
Lykins will have the help of current Mizzou wheelchair basketball players to assist in drills and demonstrations, but also to serve as counselors. Connor Downes, a member of the Mizzou wheelchair basketball team, has worked multiple wheelchair basketball camps before, and said he is looking forward to working with the campers.
“Seeing the kids play and how you’re teaching is actually going into effect, that’s fun to see,” Downes said.
Ultimately, Lykins is eager to expose the campers to the atmosphere at MU, so that they might be comfortable enough to eventually consider attending.
“We’re real excited about doing this because this is going to help us get the word out that we do have a program,” Lykins said. “The long term benefits of this camp, now, it will help the kids play, but its also promoting Mizzou and our program here, so we’re excited about this and we’re looking forward to it.”