Chesterfield, Va. - If you had an investment that quadrupled inside of a year, you'd be very happy with your portfolio.
Former VCU standouts Jesse Pellot-Rosa and Rob Brandenberg started their first basketball camp together last summer at the Midlothian Athletic Club, with four days and 45 kids. This year, they have expanded to 16 days and 180 kids, and they've also expanded their curriculum.
They have also elicited sponsors to pay for about 20 kids to attend the camp for free.
"We've added a yoga program, and a buddy program" Pellot-Rosa said. "We call it Big Buddy, Little Buddy. We're instilling leadership. We want the big kids to mentor the little kids."
It's the yoga portions that draw the most interest and honestly, some snickers from the kids who have never done it before.
"The stretching, getting the muscles right" said Brandenberg, who was first introduced to yoga by former VCU head coach Shaka Smart. "It also helps mentally, to clear the mind."
"Kids are impressionable. This can be something they learn right now compared to us learning when we were much older. It's foreign to them, but it's good to open their minds to how beneficial it can be."
"Yoga helps prevent injuries" added Pellot-Rosa who was first introduced to the exercises when he was in NFL camp with the New York Jets. "A lot of people don't realize how useful yoga can be. I've always been a stretch guy so I was cool with doing yoga."
The camp also helps teach some of the older campers about preparing for college, both on and off the court. Things that Pellot-Rosa and Brandenberg wish they had learned before coming to VCU.
"It's all about the mentality" Brandenberg said. "They are going to get better physically as they grow, but they have to have the right mindset and attitude about college. We want them to remember what we talked about here if they encounter some situations in college."
"You have to be mentally tough to deal with all the aspects that come with college" Pellot-Rosa added. "You have to lift weights as well because when you get to college, you have to be strong enough to take a hit and not be knocked off your line."
Ikechi Chantilou, a rising junior at George Wythe is already drawing interest from Oklahoma State among other programs. This is his first year in the camp and he has learned that, while he thought he trained hard in the past, it wasn't nearly hard enough.
"You can't take any breaks, you have to keep pushing" Chantilou said. "Even when you're tired, you have to keep going.
Chantilou is paired up in the Buddy program with Collin McDonald, a rising 5th grader at St. Christopher's. While their backgrounds couldn't be more different, they have developed a bond that Chantilou wishes he had at that age with someone older.
"I can learn form, shooting positions, and just getting better overall" McDonald said.
Future camp weeks begin on July 23rd, August 13th and August 20th. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.