The basketballs never stop bouncing at Holy Innocents’.

This summer the hoops’ successes continued as the Sandy Springs school was selected to host the Inaugural USA Basketball Gold Camp. 

Not only that, head girls’ coach Nichole Dixon was selected as the lead coach for the girls’ gold camp, while Holli Wilkins, Daniel Sugars and Drake Hudgins were named court coaches. Dixon recently guided the Lady Bears to a Class A-Private state championship in March, as they topped rival Wesleyan in the finals. 

“This is the only camp in the country for middle school student/athletes; it was a national pilot clinic to identify girls in their earlier years,” Dixon said. “I was also honored to get to ask coaches from around the area, which is and was a great way to form relationships with other coaches, both public and private.”

The boys camp was at the regional level. Newly appointed HIES coach Cabral Huff worked as court coach with the middle school boys. Huff was appointed to his new position last spring after successful stints at both the high school and collegiate levels.

All in all, Gold Camp consisted of two days for both girls and boys — the last Sunday and Monday in June — with the event held for 7th and 8th grade rising stars. It was a part of the official USA Basketball Youth Development division, which is a branch of the national governing body of hoops in the United States.

The camps serve in a feeder variety in finding talent for 16U, 17U and 18U national teams that compete across the world each year.

USA Basketball Gold Camps focus on enhanced skill development for 7th and 8th grade girls and boys while emphasizing basketball fundamentals and progressive development through station work, group drills and competition.

In order to attend, each “hoopster hopeful” had to go through an application process, which included sending in individual game films for evaluation. The camp had players from Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina, to name only some. One player came over from Dubai in the Middle East. Some 48 players were then selected to participate.

Besides the two days of instruction and activities, head USA Basketball Junior National coach Don Showalter also visited and put the players through “skills and drills” while discussing the USA “Gold Standard.” Showalter is a 10-team USA basketball gold-medalist head coach. 

Four Golden Bears were chosen to compete at the camp, including Hailee Swain, Brooke Suttle, Zaynah Preston, and Ciara Alexander.

“Holy Innocents’ was a destination for people from across the country and the world – that’s big,” Dixon said. Her individual success continued even after the camp, as she was asked by Showalter to come to Iowa in late July and work another prestigious USA camp.

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