Being coached by champions

Mike McGlashan spent many of his childhood summers developing his game in the Spartan Basketball Summer Camp at La Cañada High, soaking up lessons from Tom Hofman, the schools boys' basketball coach.

"I used to come every week of the summer when I was kid," said McGlashan, who just finished his senior season at La Cañada and helped the Spartans capture their first CIF Southern Section Division championship in 19 years.

The camp, which is held in La Cañada High's north gym Monday through Friday, is designed to teach fundamental basketball skills — ball-handling, footwork, defense, teamwork and basic shooting technique — to players from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

It's not rare for kids who come out to the camp, which has taken place every year for the past 26 years, to go on to play on La Cañada High's varsity squad.

"Each year about 50% of our team is made up of former campers," Hofman said.

McGlashan finished off his high school basketball career as the Rio Hondo League MVP and one of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA co-Players of the Year (along with teammate Matt Faber). Now he's spending part of his summer helping out campers, who's shoes he was once in, as a Spartan Basketball Summer Camp counselor.

The counselors are key in helping Hofman create a more relaxed atmosphere than most basketball camps.

"We are trying to have fun," Hofman said. "We have mostly La Cañada kids, so they come out here to have fun with their friends. We're a basketball camp, not a boot camp."

The camp counselors, who are mostly members of the school's 2011 CIF-championship squad, come in with a "little bit of a celebrity status" with the campers, Hofman said.

Matt Jordan, a 13-year-old who's attended the camp for the past seven years, said "it's kind of cool" having championship-caliber players showing him the ropes.

"I mean, [McGlashan] scored 30 points a game in the playoffs," said Jordan, clearly impressed.

Andrew Gunter, a 14-year-old who has been coming to the Spartan Basketball Summer Camp for the past six years, echoed Jordan's sentiments.

"It's cool being able to talk with them and have them be your own coach because you really know them and how much they've succeeded," Gunter said.

Riley Moore, who recently graduated from La Cañada High, said a lot of his teammates wanted to come help out with the camp to give back to the community.

"Since they came out and supported us, we came back to support them," Moore said. "We wanted to show all these kids our fundamental skills and basketball knowledge. Obviously, a lot of them watched us through our championship run."

Moore's postseason heroics weren't close to being forgotten by the campers.

"They'll say, 'Oh, you're No. 5, or you made that good hustle play, or you made that corner three,'" said Moore, who came off the bench to make several key plays in the Spartans' championship run. "I've had quite a few kids come up to me, actually."

Nick Alequin, a 13-year-old who's been attending the camp for the past seven years, is in his last year of eligibility in the Spartan Basketball Summer Camp, along with Jordan and Gunter.

"It's weird that this is our last year," Alequin said. "You know all the coaches here and you create a bond with them."

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