Tom Hofman basketball camp offers chance for veteran to work with youth

LA CAÑADA — It never gets old for Tom Hofman to teach the young.

For the past 28 summers, Hofman, a successful boys’ basketball coach at La Cañada High, has made the most of reeling in participants to the annual Spartan Basketball Camp to teach the finer points of the game.

It’s left him young at heart, knowing he can provide instruction in areas ranging from passing to shooting to defending.

“It’s always great to teach the younger people some different areas in the game,” said Hofman, a former All-Area Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year who has guided La Cañada to 21 Rio Hondo League championships and a pair of CIF Southern Section crowns since taking over the program in 1986. “It’s rewarding to see them make progression in all the different fundamentals and teach them about the team concept.”

The three-session camp is geared for ages 5-14 and has attracted local participants from La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, the San Gabriel Valley and even broader to several other states. The camp tipped off June 24 before ending July 19.

Hofman put the campers to the test inside the school’s south gymnasium. He watched each participant dribble up and down the court before viewing their shooting techniques.

“The format mostly stays the same,” Hofman said. “If you want to someday be a player, you have to learn how to handle the ball properly.

“The stuff that you learn here are things they should also take home and practice. It’s all about practicing and developing good habits to help you improve. We get a lot of campers coming back and you can see the progress they have made from year to year.”

There’s plenty of upside in attending the camp, which featured around 70 participants during the second session.

Sam Salit, 10, made his second camp appearance after attending summer school earlier in the day.

“I just love basketball,” said Salit, a La Cañada Flintridge resident. “My mom wants me to be active during the summer and this is a great place to come and learn about basketball.

“It’s amazing to be here with this many people.”

A summer without attending the event would be a foreign concept for Tommy Baktamian, who has attended the event since 2009.

Baktamian, 13, said he couldn’t think of a better way to improve his overall skills than to learn from Hofman, who has won more than 500 games at La Cañada.

“I’ve been playing for about eight years and there’s always something you can pick up from him,” said Baktamian, a La Cañada Flintridge resident. “My brother played for coach Hofman and he said there are a lot of things you can learn.

“It’s the little things about the game that he can teach. He pushes us forward and he can point out things, like shooting free throws the right way.”

Hofman said each camper is given a final evaluation on the last day of the session, providing them with ideas on what to work on. Also, games are played during the final hour of each day to help augment what the participants have learned earlier in the class.

“It’s there to help them know what their strengths and weaknesses are,” said Hofman, who piloted the Spartans to CIF titles in 1992 and 2011. “In the end, it’s about helping them improve and having some fun.”

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