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Skills get sharpened at Spartan Basketball Camp

Skills get sharpened at Spartan Basketball Camp
Another summer came and went at the Spartan Basketball Camp. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

LA CAÑADA — Through a crack in the door at the front entrance of the La Cañada High School auxiliary gymnasium, the sound of basketballs bouncing off the hardwood can be heard.

On the court is a group of about 75 participants going through a dribbling drill under the watch of veteran La Cañada boys’ basketball coach Tom Hofman, who has won 706 games, 26 Rio Hondo League titles and two CIF Southern Section championships since arriving on campus in 1986.

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With a whistle draped around his neck during the first of three sessions of the annual Spartan Basketball Camp, Hofman put the campers, ages 5-14, to work inside the air-conditioned venue. Some of the participants were mesmerized while learning a few fundamentals from Hofman, a former All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year who won his 700th career game in January and is one of eight coaches in the state to win 700 games at the same school.

“I’ve been able to learn a lot from him over the years and it’s incredible what he’s done and what he can teach,” said Matt Plocher, 12, of La Cañada. “It’s like the seventh straight year I’ve come to the camp and it’s cool when you can learn things from him to help your overall game.

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“The one thing I’ve learned is it’s about listening to what he has to say. You can always pick up something from him. If you don’t, then you are only hurting yourself.”

There’s plenty of pointers to pick up from Hofman, who is 706-214 in his career.

The event attracted participants mostly from La Cañada Flintridge and the San Gabriel Valley. The camp began June 4 and concluded Friday.

Levi Griffin, 12, searched for a camp that would be conducive to his skill level.

“I looked up some information on the camp and I knew this was perfect for me,” said Griffin, a resident of Pasadena who made his first camp appearance. “It’s a chance to learn from an experienced coach who has won so many games.

“He’s good about teaching the basics. He’s got former players helping him out and they have drills set up that can help you out.”

The camp covers dribbling, rebounding, shooting, passing and more. Participants are given a final evaluation on the final day of the session, examining their strengths and weaknesses. Games are also played in the final hour of each day with a focus on what’s been covered.

Hofman hasn’t grown tired of sharing his wealth of knowledge.

“It’s great when you get about the amount of people we have and my assistants and I can go over a lot of things,” Hofman said. “There’s time for one-on-one instruction in some cases.

“We have a wide range from beginners to people who have played for a while. There’s good variety. The beginners can focus on many of the basic fundamentals and the advanced players can continue honing their skills. I think they really enjoy playing the games so they have grasped what they’ve been taught. At the end of the day, it’s about them enjoying basketball.”

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