LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — For 11 years, La Cañada High girls' basketball Coach Tamar Hill ran a summer basketball camp at La Cañada High, which was one of many specific sports camps offered at the school in the summer months.
Hill had an idea two years ago for something new, an all-day and all-sports camp, and put it into action this summer with the Spartan All-Stars All-Day Sports Camp designed for athletes of all skill levels from kindergarten to sixth grade. The camp began June 18 and came to a close Friday after it conducted three two-week sessions.
"You get an introduction to a lot of sports," said Hill, the founder and director of the Spartan All-Stars Camp. "The real goal is for the kids to find out about these sports and just be out and athletic … just get out there and see what you like."
The camp was also designed with families with full-time working parents in mind as the camp started as early at 7:30 a.m. and ended as late as 5:30 p.m. with half-day options available. Hill estimates 130 families sent children to this year's camp.
There were more than a dozen sports covered in this year's camp, ranging from the familiar — basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, football and track and field — and perhaps the not-so-familiar — martial arts, jiu jitsu, badminton, wrestling, lacrosse, tumbling and dance. Each day campers rotated between three sports in the morning and three activities in the afternoon.
"My mom heard about [the camp] and she signed me up and now it's my favorite thing," said camper and La Cañada Flintridge resident Noah Chun, who said he fell in love with badminton at the camp, which is where he was also introduced to lacrosse. "I have probably played 14 different sports here."
"A lot if it is a chance for them to learn to try new things and it's OK if you're not good at it because we're all learning it," said Hill, adding the Spartan All-Stars Camp provides a pressure-free environment.
The camp also allows Spartans sports programs to get some exposure, as La Cañada coaches from KC Mathews (softball), Alex Valadez (baseball), Gavin Williams (wrestling), Will Moravec (tennis), Kyle Smith (lacrosse), Alex Harrison (soccer) and Steve Zimmerman (track and field) took part.
"It's a way for [the coaches] to promote their programs and the kids get access to good coaches," Hill said. "How many kids are exposed to wrestling or lacrosse before they get to high school?"
Ethan Harp, an 11-year-old sixth-grade camper from La Cañada Elementary, decided to attend the Spartan All-Stars Camp and work on some new sports after he heard how much fun it was from friends.
"I love [the camp], I think all the sports are great and it just couldn't be better," Harp said. "This camp has introduced me to a lot of new sports, some of them I have never heard of before like jiu jitsu."
Hill said a second Spartan All-Star Camp can be expected for next year with the possibility of it becoming an annual event after all the positive feedback she's received from campers and parents.
"At this point," she said, "we have had such good feedback and everyone keeps asking us if we're going to do it again, so the answer is yes."