By Taylor Eldridge
So some of the joys of Twitter is that sometimes stories come to you. That was the case recently when D.J. Fisher found me on Twitter and told me about his basketball camp he was running with former Wichita State great P.J. Couisnard.
It’s still a little ways away (the first day is June 7), but if you are between the ages of 10 to 18, or have a kid in that age range, here’s a basketball camp for you to check out. It’s affordable and has some names your familiar with (WSU grads Couisnard, Ramon Clemente & Lance Harris).
You can even get $10 off if you print this story off, so click the jump to find out more about this camp.
Cooz Elite Basketball Camp
When: June 7-11 (Monday-Friday)
Where: Sunrise Christian Academy (5500 E. 45th St. N., Bel Aire, KS 67220)
Who: Boys & Girls, ages 10 to 18
Cost: $60 (Print out this story and receive $10 off for total of $50)
Coaches: P.J. Couisnard, D.J. Fisher, Ramon Clemente, Lance Harris & Reggie Love
Web Site: CoozElite.com
Contact number: (316) 993.2939 (Potential sponsors always welcomed)
I also was able to speak with Fisher and Couisnard, who co-run the camp. Here are a few questions I asked them for you to get to know better. Last year, without much promoting before, Fisher says around 60 kids showed up and it was “successful, to say the last.” Couisnard runs a camp in Houston, as well and at the end of the camp he holds an All-Star game featuring his squad named Team Houston against Team Wichita, coached by Fisher. This year they are targeting high school kids hard and are hoping to even double, possibly triple, their attendance this year. Here’s a few more questions:
How did you and P.J. meet and how did this camp get started?
DF: “Well, me and P.J. met at Wichita State. I transferred from TCU and me, P.J., Jamar (Howard) and Fridge (Holman) were real tight. Then Jamar and Fridge went their separate ways. But we built that relationship and always kept in contact. P.J. knows that I do event coordination and he contacted me and said, ‘I want to do a basketball camp.’ One thing led to another with my connections in Wichita, we got some sponsors and put it together.”
PJ: “D.J. and I have been working together for about two years now trying to get this camp, and the Cooz Elite business, off the ground. I must say D.J. works harder than anybody I know when it comes to getting the job done.”
Going in that first year, did you really know what to expect?
DF: “We really went into it blind. Relationships are everything. We went out there and went to neighborhoods and went to basketball courts and we built relationships with them and talked to their parents and even went to churches, as well. And kids signed up. They recognized who I was, and of course recognized P.J. Wichita is a basketball city. Kansas is a basketball state. Everybody eats, sleeps and breathes basketball. So it was a win-win. Why not be taught by the best?
What sets your camp apart from others? Or why should kids sign up for your camp?
DF: “What sets our camp apart is, number one, the relationship between the coaches and the kids. It’s not just a camp where kids go to pay their money and get taught basketball. We laugh. We have fun. We’re serious in getting the drills embedded into the kids’ minds, though. Number two, we’ve been taught by some of the best coaches in the nation. P.J. was coached by (current Texas A&M coach Mark) Turgeon. Ramon too. Personally, I was coached by (former Oklahoma and TCU coach) Billy Tubbs. Lance Harris had Gregg Marshall. We’re taking all of that training and putting into one bucket and pouring it on these kids. Why not be surrounded and taught by people who love the game and want to help others out? We also provide advanced training, as well as basic skills. We have tons of coaches that come in and recruit. We’ve had college coaches from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri come in. We just want to improve the talent around the city.”
PJ: “The thing that makes my camp better than the other camps is it’s cheaper, only being 60 bucks. It’s also for boys and girls. It’s all about learning and fun and each kid is featured one way or another on our web site. They all get uniforms and we set up an all-star game and kids from other states and cities will participate in it. And of course we have tons of great sponsors.”
How much does being former players, recognizable faces help out in connecting with kids?
PJ: “I think it definitely helps out a lot having former players at the camp. But we don’t just have WSU players. I’ve been working with Jawan McCullen, a former Arizona player and a McDonald’s All-American. We’ve been trying to get some kids from the high school that I went to and finished No. 1 in the country this year in Yates High School. I think having a lot of former players always helps parents feel comfortable knowing that the people teaching their kids are experienced in the game.”
It sounds like you guys pride yourselves in the personal relationship, as well. Explain your philosophy on that bond between you and the kids.
DF: “I believe in encouragement to do better on and off the court. I believe that personal relationships with the players and them knowing our history shows them that we have positive attitudes off the court. Of course, we put our game face on when we’re on the court. But it shows them how to be off the court, too. We’re role models to those kids. That’s a key factor when coaches are recruiting. They’re not going to want a kid with a messed-up attitude. So we’re trying to encourage them to get to the next step and believe in it.”
Final question to leave everyone with, obviously everyone knows you guys love the game of basketball, but when did you know you wanted to help kids?
DF: “It’s always been my dream and my passion to help kids. I used to spend hours at the Lynette Woodard Center helping kids do drills. Before we would play pick-up ball, these kids would take over and we would work them out before we play. One of those kids was (former Wichita great) Dupree Lucas and you’ve seen the success that’s brought him. I just love helping other people out. That’s my dream. If these kids make it to the NBA, I want them to say D.J. Fisher helped me get there. That would mean more than getting a million dollars from them.”
PJ: “Well, I’ve always wanted to help others. I think one of my greatest accomplishments was when The Wichita Eagle did the decade article and it was me giving somebody a pair of shoes that made the list. I think that’s a testament to what type of people the city of Wichita has. I think the people here are great and they’ve helped me so much, so I’m just trying to give back to them.”