By Shelley Gardner
When Michael Loulakis” son Charlie asked his dad why he was shaving on a Saturday morning, Loulakis told his 10-year-old son that they were at a Mormon school where he had to be “clean shaven,” even though they were just attending a basketball camp.
The Loulakis”, from Great Falls, Virginia, were part of the group of 430 men and boys who came to BYU at the end of May for men”s basketball head coach Steve Cleveland”s annual Fathers and Sons Basketball Camp.
“It”s a great chance to spend quality time together,” Loulakis said. “Also, it”s a place where nobody knows how poorly I play basketball. Nobody knows me in Utah.”
Loulakis had never been to BYU or heard of the camp before, but his wife found it while surfing the Internet and gave it to Charlie and him as a birthday present.
“It”s been a pleasant experience,” he said. “It is exceeding our expectations. We didn”t know what our expectations were before, but it”s definitely exceeding them.”
Charlie said it was just fun to come and play basketball.
In this once-a-year unique sports camp, fathers and sons get personalized attention from the entire men”s basketball coaching staff and nearly all the basketball players in the clinics and scrimmages of the four-day camp.
The clinics for the dads and boys include learning the fundamentals on passing, dribbling, shooting, rebounding, offense, defense, opponent intimidation and team strategies.
BYU senior forward Jake Shoff taught a clinic about team offense with senior guard Luiz Lemes and assistant coach John Wardenburg.
Shoff said there is an expectation from the kids, parents and coaches for the players to help out with the camp.
“But is it an obligation? No,” he said. “This is my favorite camp of the year. I love it.”
Many of the boys were star-struck being with the current basketball players, including recent graduate Travis Hansen who was there in between NBA tryouts.
Ten-year-old Clark Gardner from Idaho Falls, Idaho, got all the players and coaches to sign his brand-new BYU basketball.
“The camp is awesome because all the players were there,” said Gardner, “and I get to play basketball the whole weekend.”
Gardner”s dad, Steve, said the father/son experience was priceless.
“The entire team was so generous with their time and attention to the boys,” Gardner said. “They couldn”t have been nicer.”
Assistant men”s basketball coach Andy Toolson, said “A lot of the fathers who come are busy and it gives them a chance doing something they enjoy, which is playing basketball, learning more about basketball and spending time together.”
He said it is just a great bonding weekend for the fathers and sons.
On Sunday, the boys and their dads went to Temple Square to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir”s Sunday morning broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word and for Sacrament Meeting in the Assembly Hall. The group had lunch at This is the Place Heritage Park, and then back to Provo for a fireside by internationally known motivational speaker Dan Clark. Clark told the boys that the most important thing they can do in their lives is serve a mission and get married in the temple.
“This is more than just a basketball camp,” Toolson said. “It is a chance for the young men to have some experience with their dads and hopefully take more back than just the fundamentals of basketball. We want them to grow a little bit. We want them to get a perspective that the BYU basketball program is more than just trying to be good basketball players, but we are trying to nurture their values also.”