The annual Nike basketball camp returns to Arnold

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Dozens of young athletes ages 9 to 15 are participating in the annual Nike Basketball Camp at Arnold High School this week.

Many of the campers are from the area, but Josh Laatsch, camp director and athletic director for Bay District Schools, said some are just passing through on vacation.

“We have kids from South Carolina, from Tennessee, from Alabama, from Georgia, all vacationing here,” Laatsch said. “And they choose to work out at the gym instead of being at the beach.”

From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the young athletes go through Nike's structured camp format, which focuses on teamwork, fundamentals and intensive classroom sessions.

James Siegel, a rising seventh-grader at University Academy, said he is taking time over the summer to hone his skills.

“I've loved basketball since I was three years old,” Siegel said. “And I just wanted to get better and play the game because I enjoy it.”

Other athletes like Christian Maldonado, the incoming freshman at South Walton High School, said he is working to improve his game before team tryouts later this year.

“Later in school, I have to make the team,” Maldonado said. “And if I don't make the team, I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want to play video games all the time.”

Coaches and athletes from several high schools in Bay County helped organize the camp, including Mosley junior Andrew Moseley, who participated in the camp's first edition five years ago.

“I like giving back to the community,” Moseley said. “I was born and raised here. It's just cool to see these kids that are going to be in my shoes one day hopefully playing for a local high school. And you know, it's just cool to teach these kids when they're young.”

The three-day Nike basketball camp began on Monday and ends on Wednesday afternoon.