LAMPASAS — Aaron Nuckles wants to enhance skills, but he also wants to cultivate passion.
Entering his first season at Lampasas, the Badgers new head coach is inheriting a team coming off its most successful showing in decades after capturing the program’s only district championship since 1994.
With attention at a high, Nuckles intends to further develop the momentum generated by predecessor Rob Shivers, and it begins long before players reach the varsity level.
“You’ve got to do something with the younger kids to plant a seed of interest so you see them during the season at games,” Nuckles said. “There has to be a connection where the program and the community can weave together.
“It has to start somewhere, because if you don’t have a foundation, then you really don’t have anything.”
Beginning Monday, Nuckles gets his first opportunity to create a connection with the area’s youth.
Nuckles and Badgers assistant coach James Allison will instruct a three-day camp open to all second- through ninth-graders at Lampasas High School, and although fundamentals will be heavily emphasized to all ages, it is not strictly business.
“We try to be as serious as we can but have fun with it too,” Nuckles said. “Even with the older guys, but especially for the younger guys, if they’re not having fun, they’re not going to come back.
“So, we’re going to have as many games and competitions as we can, but it will be after we teach them form shooting and stuff like that.”
The camp will stress basic skills, including ball handling, defense, rebounding and shooting, and touch on broader aspects such as running plays. There will be two age-appropriate sessions with second- through fifth-graders attending from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and sixth- through ninth-graders following from 1 to 4 p.m.
On the final day of the camp, guest instructor Payton Simon, who played at Austin Akins and Concordia, will assist.
Despite holding the head coach’s position for just over two months, Nuckles has been busy converting the Badgers to his philosophies.
So far, it has been a fairly seamless transition.
After posting an overall record of 4-4 at Salado’s spring league, Lampasas qualified for the Texas Basketball Championships 2017 Summer State Basketball Tournament — a berth the team is reluctantly turning down due to prior commitments.
Currently, the Badgers are competing in summer leagues at both Hamilton and San Saba, and they are undefeated in each.
“We’ve got in a whole lot of games,” Nuckles said, “and I can tell this union is going to work out. These guys are really good.”
With no immediate concerns for the program, Nuckles is turning his attention toward the future for now, and he wants his first camp at Lampasas to be a means of fostering interest for years to come.
“My goal is to send them home with stuff they can do at their house with just a ball to get better,” Nuckles said. “They should just be able to get out in the driveway and do something they learned with a friend or by themself.
“That is the main, overall point of this whole camp.”
For more information on the camp, email firstname.lastname@example.org.