KOKOMO, Ind. – Tom Church may be new to Kokomo, but he already understands the rich history the city has with the game of basketball. As the newly minted head coach of the Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball program, Church wants local players to improve the game he loves. Next month, he will launch the Tom Church Basketball Academy for students in grades 4-9.

“We want to reach out into the community and build that relationship between IU Kokomo and players,” said Church, who coached last season at NCAA Division II St. Joseph’s College before the school closed. “We want to get kids involved. Summer basketball is about having fun. We want to get the kids into our gym, get to know the players and help improve their game.”

The basketball academy will take place from June 5-8 for boys entering grades 4-6 and June 19-22 for those entering grades 7-9 – both sessions are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cougar Gym (507 E. Superior St., behind Memorial Gymnasium). The cost of the four-day academy is $80 (lunch not included), and each student will receive a T-shirt and be instructed by Church, his staff and IUK players.

“The academy is a great opportunity for young boys to build player confidence through skill development and team play,” said Church. “The boys basketball day camp is designed to give kids a fun and exciting introduction to the fundamentals of basketball that will develop their basketball skills.”

Church said it is difficult to host a one-day camp because relationships cannot be built. He feels a multi-day camp will be more beneficial for younger players.

“They are going to get better during that week. More importantly, they will get drills that they can take with them and really work on their game. The goal is to show them how to work on their game and get better,” he said. “We will have some fun and build relationships. My goal is to have the fourth and fifth-graders go all the way through, returning each year.”

The IU Kokomo coach, who has facilitated camps for several years, said he will have his players on hand giving instruction to the academy participants.

“We will have a different focus each day, and the great thing is we will have our players there who can demonstrate certain things,” said Church. “Young players who have a goal to play college basketball will then be able to see what it will take to get there. We will be able to work with them one-on-one. We are excited. Parents will be able to drop their kids off with us for the day and we will help them get better in all facets of their game. It is about getting to know the kids in the community and them getting to know us.”

With most high schools also hosting camps, Church said there is no reason they should not be able to coincide. In fact, he has contacted local coaches and tried to schedule his academy during times school programs are idle.

“I think kids getting out and doing as many camps as they can is good,” said Church. “With skills and drills, I think we will bring something a little different than a high school coach. And maybe a high school coach will have their camp geared towards their own system. I think giving kids an option is a good thing.”

Church said there will be a one-day elite camp in August for high school players who have ambitions to play in college. He also has plans to work with middle and high school-aged players throughout the season.

For more information, contact Coach Church at (440) 812-5442 or churcht@iuk.edu. Additional information and an entry form is available by visiting www.tomchurchbasketball academy.com.

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