50 All-Stars is a California nonprofit youth basketball organization centralized in Moraga, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and surrounding areas. We operate year-round and specialize in player development and training utilizing the following categories: Workouts • Team Practices • Private Sessions • Open Gyms • Games • Conditioning • Combines • Clinics • Camps • 4-7 Year Olds • Tryouts

Newsletter #4 - Summer Time

staff@50allstars.com 925.979.5027 [ return to website ]
July 1st, 2017The Official Newsletter of 50 All-Stars BasketballIssue #4

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
SUMMER TIME
Summer is fun for nearly everyone, but as a basketball player it's always meant a lot more to me. It's a time when we put in tons and tons of hours for the sole purpose of having it all pay off by the start of school. With no true obligations and endless time, this is truly when legends are made. With our program we go 7 days a week; for some of our greatest players, however, not even that's enough!
DEREK KOTARBA: PART III

DEREK KOTARBA'S 1-YEAR QUEST: PART III

TO REITERATE: On November 1st of 2016, 8th grader Derek Kotarba started his quest to transform himself into a High School Varsity player by November 1st of 2017. Our plan was simple: Try to miss as few days of our workouts as possible between now and then. Only when our program takes a rare break would he be allowed to take a break. To assist him in his journey, I bought him two 12-piece puzzle sets - one of a lion, and one of a tiger. I told him to construct the puzzles, and place them somewhere in his room where he could see them daily. We agreed that he'd bring me one of the puzzle pieces whenever he missed a day for any reason at all.

TO UPDATE: 8 months in, Derek's had one small vacation and a week-long boy scout venture that have only robbed him of a few more puzzle pieces. He's now BY FAR the all-time leader in attendance, and his improvement has continued to be substantial. His last remaining hurdle in his quest to play Varsity this winter is a little thing called puberty, of which he's obviously nowhere close to going through. Amazing thing is he's slowly reaching the point where his mind is mature enough to realize the inevitability of a growth spurt will only instantaneously propel him to unbelievable ranks if he continues to bottle up and package skill set after skill set.

Be sure to check back in 3 months for the conclusion of Derek's journey, which will undoubtedly only be the beginning of an even greater one.

Lamorinda's Swim Strategy

Lamorinda's Swim Strategy

Our program primarily consists of players from the Lamorinda area. The worst part about basketball here is that it's a swim town that's produced over 15 Olympians for both swim & water polo, and most kids refuse to put in the time for basketball. The best part about basketball here, however, is that it's a swim town that's produced over 15 Olympians for both swim & water polo, and we have a slew of high-potential athletes as well as a glaring example of how to get things done the right way!

Our goal is to steal as much of their game plan as possible, so let me lay it out for you: Basically most kids here start swim when they're 2-4 years old. Their teams range from practicing once a week to nearly every day, while the social aspect kinda forces everyone in town to at least dabble in the sport. As early as 4 years old, it's possible for a kid to be cut from some of the top programs. When the kids are 7 years old and seasoned vets, they begin to face kids from other towns who are just starting out. It's at this point where the magic happens. They have such a head start that even the worst swimmers in the area obliterate the competition from other neighborhoods, as opposed to our basketball players starting in the 3rd grade already so far behind kids from basketball neighborhoods. The confidence this instills leads many parents and kids to devote whatever is necessary to continue that success. By high school, those who survive & thrive love the sport they've come to dominate and many workout nearly every day of the week for up to 3 hours.

All of this started with Matt Biondi, a 1980's Olympic gold-medalist who was a freak athlete who grew up within the city limits. His inspiration coupled with a land developer who adored the idea of installing swimming pools in most backyards gave way to what I described above. Assuming you're reading this article 15 years from now, our rich basketball tradition began with a newsletter written in 2017 describing how we were going to eventually allow the town of Lamorinda to dominate at basketball as well.

AUGUST TRYOUTS

AUGUST TRYOUTS

Although there's still space available on our local teams for every grade (K-12th) for the remainder of this year, we will have official tryouts for next year in August. We're using the tryouts to build our 2018 Elite Travel Teams to further strengthen the program we already have in place. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

There are two tryout dates for every grade level: August 1st & August 3rd at Tice Valley Community Gym. We can only accept about 15 players per grade, so be sure to sign-up as soon as you can.

For non-members, this is a great event to try our program free of charge. You'll definitely receive a heavy dose of all we have to offer, while you show off to potentially win our full ride scholarship offer that includes free membership, free flights, free hotels, and a bunch of other stuff.

For members, attending tryouts isn't essential... but feel free to show up to prove to us that you're better head-to-head than anyone who could potentially take your spot.

Please let us know if you have any questions. See you there!

THE STORY OF ELLIOT

THE STORY OF ELLIOT

Our 3 weeks of summer camp were a raging success! Even our complaints were inspirational, as we were told by 5 different parents that our camp was too much for their kid to handle and this was obviously a camp geared towards players who wanted to one day reach the NBA. Funny thing is we actually slowed the pace down by about 5 times to make way for non-members and some of our members actually asked me to make the camp harder. Funniest thing is each of those kids' parents called back by week's end to tell me their kid ended up loving the camp and were so inspired to continue the sport. Sometimes all we need to do is provide our children with an opportunity to give their all, and they're surprise us.

Through all the camps, no story was larger than one of our smallest. 5 year-old Elliot decided to play with our 1st-5th graders in the Open Gym immediately following one of the days of camp. Although he said he couldn't really shoot on the big hoop, he was hyped to play. From the start, he guarded one of our best 5th graders and stayed in front of him the entire game. He realized quickly he was unable to handle the ball for longer than a few seconds without it getting stolen, so he quickly adjusted to passing the ball amazingly well around the court instead. He got rebounds, assists, and win after win. The rest of the week saw him win countless camp prizes as well. I asked around, and apparently Elliot dominates at most every sport, despite being fairly small. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of his legend, and we are proud to play whatever role he allows us to play in that story.

4th Grade Focus (revisited)

4th Grade Focus: LUKE DEVINE (Part 2)

With the summer time putting our kids in limbo in regard to what grade they're in, let me talk about Luke Devine again as he segues from 4th to 5th grade instead of our normal 4th grade focus. Last time I talked about a kid who was struggling despite having an amazing attitude and an awesome work ethic. Well, just 3 short months later that kid has come to be one of the most dominant members of our team. He's even battling with kids 3 years older than he is now.

With more experience, however, he's continually confronted with the realization that there's even more he needs to learn. But such is life, and he definitely has proven he has the fortitude to persevere through anything life has to offer. Luke's parents are struggling to cope with his maniacal approach to the sport, but having a kid willing and able to put in so much time for a passion of his is a very good "problem" to have. We'll work on him controlling that drive more than it controls him, but the life of Luke Devine is undoubtedly going to be an unbelievable thing to watch. Get the popcorn out!

LANA'S RECRUITING SEASON

LANA'S RECRUITING SEASON

Lana Wenger, our soon-to-be high school freshman has had a very interesting past few months. Being the most eligible member of our program, I decided to make our entire college coach email distribution list about her. She’s not yet anywhere near the level of a top college basketball recruit, but I believe listing her size (6’2”) and describing her workout routine with us (5-6 days/week) was enough to inspire over 200 D1 schools to contact her. Since she’s still so young, schools are limited to only sending out questionnaires and elite camp invitations, so that’s what she got a ton of. Schools like Gonzaga and Stanford were contacting me about her. Every Ivy League school was sure to hit her up as well. And just so her head wouldn’t get too big, I told her she still has a ways to go before U-CONN (her favorite school) contacted her… but then they contacted her as well!

In an AAU world where players are skipping out on hard work in favor of playing on teams that only travel and play games for exposure reasons, it’s great that we’ve finally discovered a way to skip the need for all that. I also believe the college coaches know how Lana's hard work will eventually win out over the myriad of players who are currently better than her. The best part, however, is that Lana is extremely excited to continue to improve… which is the primary reason for me even going down this road to begin with. Contacting every coach on every team in every division was definitely not an easy thing to do, but it’s more than worth the effort if one of our players benefits from it so tremendously.

THE PARADOX OF COACHING MISTAKES

THE PARADOX OF COACHING MISTAKES

As a coach, I pride myself on two things: 1) Inspiring players to be brave enough to make mistakes, and 2) being honest enough with those same players to let them know about each mistake they make. I may seem schizophrenically hypocritical to some players, as I take them aside to tell them to try things and take a chance with something they aren't comfortable with during a game to only scream at them for making a mistake a few minutes later. And then to top it all off, I congratulate them a few moments after that on their bravery.

It's a balancing act that I'm not afraid to perform. I also have immense confidence in most of my players to be able to learn through both of these extremes. Life is all about learning from mistakes, but it's also about recognizing those mistakes to rectify it all. I attempt to teach the kids to feel excited when they find a new mistake to work on, and to be hyped when they're being pushed by someone who believes they can achieve more. With mistakes, it's gotta be a love/hate relationship.

EMMA'S FINAL SUMMER

EMMA'S FINAL SUMMER

Emma Godfrey has had an amazing career with us AND with her high school team. We’ve been further blessed to also have her join our high school boys team this summer as she continues to prepare for her college career. It’s given us more time to be inspired by her extreme dedication, it’s given us enough players to actually have a traveling team, but it’s also given her a chance to spread her wings in ways she wasn’t allowed to during high school.

You see, we work on so many aspects during our daily morning workouts that there’s no way she could explore all of it within her power forward role on her Varsity team. For one, there’s so much pressing going on that the only real shots she gets are layups. What’s more is she isn’t forced to carry the load on a team that has a decent amount of other options. On our boys high school varsity team, we ironically need her to do most everything. I wasn’t sure what was going to come of it, but something amazing happened. All that was once dormant within her skill set came forward for all the world to see. She absolutely dominated. After going only 2 for 2 from three-point range the entire high school season, she’s been shooting over 45% from the arc and averaging at least 4 made 3’s a game. She brings the ball up the court, rebounds against boys who are at times 7 inches taller, she guards the other team’s best player, and one of her best performances was a 30+ point effort against a team that beat our all-boys Varsity team last year.

We still have a month to go, but I can’t wait to see what’s left for her to improve upon. And I really can’t wait to see how this assists in her transition to college. I believe these college girls are in for a treat when they see Emma!

TRAVELING TEAM'S COMMUNITY

TRAVELING TEAM'S COMMUNITY

So far this year, we've only traveled to Reno. We now have plans to go to LA, Oregon, and Vegas during July. As much I hate the limits tournaments place on our weekly practice time, the times we travel are the most amazing part of youth basketball. As an organization, we most definitely don't overdo travel tournaments... and I believe that's exactly why these events are extra special for us.

Besides having the honor to play against some of the nation's best players, our kids and our parents have the opportunity to bond in a plethora of ways. All of our players from 1st-12th are honestly like a family now, and that's the most invaluable aspect of our program. BBQ's, bowling, dinner, and more have given our kids even more reason to work their butts off all year long.

I've traveled all around the United States for college ball and all around the world during my pro days, but never in my life have I been more excited to travel for the sport of basketball as I am this July. See you guys on the road! :-)