Girls Got Next Camp Empowers on Court and Off

    Cambry Lockhart, entering her freshman year at Thunder Mountain High School, is guarded by Kake's Mamie Crookes, who will be a senior, during the Girls Got Next basketball camp at TMHS. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - This week’s Hoop Academy 3 Girls Got Next basketball camp at Thunder Mountain High School not only improves the skills of female athletes but also focuses on their all-around development on and off the court.

      “The camp combines skill building, self awareness and self esteem improvement with high level basketball instruction,” TMHS Falcons girls basketball coach Andy Lee said. Lee is the camp director. “This allows every student athlete to leave a better person and athlete. ‘Champions on and off the court’ is the ultimate goal regardless of age or talent level.”

      The camp is led by world class former and current college coaches and administrators.

      This year Lee has brought in Dr. Helen Higgs, Dr. Sandra Marbut and Jaime Hoffman.

      Ms. Higgs led East Anchorage High School to a state championship in 1980, then went on to play at the University of Oregon. Ms. Higgs started three years at the U of O and led the Ducks to a top-ten national ranking. Ms. Higgs has coached abroad and at both Gonzaga University and Whitworth College. At Whitworth she finished 24 seasons with a winning percentage of .587.

      “It is fun to come back to Alaska and give back,” Higgs said. “We just really hope the girls end up seeing that basketball is fun, love the sport and get some knowledge and basic fundamentals that they can take home and do on their own and with their teams…”

      Higgs said the Alaska campers were “really hard workers, great young ladies. They want to work hard, they are willing to learn, they ask questions and they are really engaged… some of the older kids are really talented…”

      Ms. Marbut has spent over 25 years as a collegiate coach, holding positions in the NCAA and NAIA divisions. Ms. Marbut attended Sheldon Jackson College and went on to coach multiple sports at Mount Saint Clare College, Marycrest College, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Western Illinois and then Caltech where she has coached for 14 years. Ms. Marbut has set records for recruiting and is the winningest coach in Caltech’s history.

      “Way back in the dark ages, in the late 80’s, I came from Los Angeles, California on a scholarship to play at Sheldon Jackson,” Marbut said. “So my heart has always been in basketball here in Southeast. I worked my first camp in the version of this in Sitka, where they would bring up college coaches from the lower 48… this has been a tradition for more than 30 years. Andy Lee here at Thunder Mountain has done a great job of inspiring the girls to have women role models and women mentors… part of this is my gift back to Southeast basketball which game me a college education and a chance to play… and it is a chance to work with girls and continue to inspire them to be great basketball players to go on and play in college. It was such an amazing experience for me that I want to make sure the girls have this chance… What Andy has done that has been fantastic is he has made that commitment to bringing women coaches up… it is important for male coaches to make sure the girls have female role models or females they can see being leaders, being at the top of their field, so that the girls can say ‘hey, I can do that.’ They need to hear about girls going on to play in college. They need to hear about girls going on into coaching careers or girls going on to be leaders in whatever profession…”

      Ms. Hoffman is the Athletic Director at Chadwick College. After serving in leadership positions in higher education and athletic administration for more than two decades, Jaime Hoffman joins Chadwick effective July 18, 2022, as Athletic Director and a member of the School Leadership Team. Reporting to Interim Head of School Tom Sheppard, Jaime will lead Chadwick's athletic department composed of more than 50 coaches and 25 sports teams in the fulfillment of the school's Mission. 

      Prior to joining Chadwick, Ms. Hoffman served as the Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics at Occidental College (Oxy), where she supervised 21 varsity athletic programs, club sports, intramural programs and the community wellness program. During her 14 years at Oxy, she was directly responsible for adding opportunities for the entire Oxy population, from students to faculty and alumni to families. She attributes her strategy of casting a wider net as the catalyst to yielding greater participation and, ultimately, creating a sense of belonging and community that was previously underdeveloped. 

      Prior to transitioning into administration, Ms. Hoffman spent 10 years leading college women's basketball programs. She enjoyed the challenge of taking on teams with less successful competitive records and creating winning programs in a relatively short time. In her final season as coach prior to her Athletic Director appointment, the Oxy women's basketball team won the SCIAC conference championship under her leadership.

      Most recently, Ms. Hoffman served as Athletic Director at the LAPD's Athletic Club, where she introduced Peloton to all 23 geographical LAPD divisions, ensuring access to fitness opportunities for more than 12,000 police officers over 428 square miles of coverage. During the past year, Ms. Hoffman also served as Westridge School's girls basketball coach.

      Ms. Hoffman holds a Masters of Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University, and a bachelor's degree from the Catholic University of America. Jaime will be relocating to Palos Verdes from Pasadena, where she is raising her 9-year-old daughter, Avery.

      “It’s my first time in Alaska,” Hoffman said. “I think it is awesome that a sport like basketball can bring me up here just to do a camp and share whatever I know about a sport I love with folks who obviously have the same passion. What I have found of these girls, first of all, they are so easy to work with, they are incredibly coachable… their work ethic is phenomenal, and they are just sponges and it is pretty awesome to be up here coaching them…”

      Over 200 athletes are attending the camp this year.

     Mamie Crookes will be a senior at Kake High School.

      “I like the new things I am learning,” Crookes said. “New fundamentals, new things and how to play basketball as a better player and be a good teammate.”

      Alona Howland will be a senior at Hoonah High School.

      "Me and my team decided to come here because we obviously have a younger team and we'll only have three seniors and then the rest are eighth graders and freshmen and sophomores," Howland said. "So we decided to come here to just work on our game together as a team. The biggest thing I have picked up is definitely my footwork and just getting better at being a point guard… I’m really excited about it (the camp), especially for the younger ones, just to get focused on getting them more work… I have honestly always wanted to go to one of Coach Lee’s camps. I have never been to one before so I really enjoy his coaching.”

      Kiara Endicott will be a senior at TMHS.

      "What I'm getting out of this camp is the basic fundamentals," Endicott said. "And just relearning the game and just to help improve my skills… I think it is a really cool opportunity especially because they all are teaching us different things and, like, stuff I didn’t even know about. So I’m really excited for the season…”


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