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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Pups to Bulldogs, Badgley Leading Next Group of Ken East Hoopsters

Bulldogs Complete 4-Day Summer Camp 

Two years ago Jim Badgley took over the boys basketball program at Kenmore East high school as the varsity head coach. This week, along with other Bulldog coaches, they held their first ever summer basketball camp open to boys in grades three through eight. About three dozen kids registered with more than two-thirds living in the Ken-East district.

“That’s the best part, most of our campers will have the opportunity to play here one day,” Badgley said on Thursday during the final day of instruction. “We need to do this if we plan on building our program up. We need to expose these kids to the school and this is a good way to do that.”

Assisting Badgley are his JV coaches, Dan Hannon and longtime Kenmore West girl’s varsity coach Mike Licata. On this particular morning Licata took center stage and led the campers through a number of team oriented drills. It was amazing to watch that. After spending close to 30 years on the bench at Ken West he still has the ability to draw the attention of each player. “He’s the man,” Hannon said. “I’m incredibly lucky to have him with me on JV and watch him do his thing and hear how he talks to the kids.”

Badgley and his staff are putting an emphasis on team communication and playing hard through the whistle. They want their kids to play physical and wear down their opponents. In addition to teaching the fundamental skills of the game such as dribbling with both the left and right hand, passing and shooting, Badgley incorporated agility drills as well – something Hannon believes strongly in. “We want our kids to be stronger and more flexible; these agility based drills are perfect for that.”

Most of the drills the campers go through each day are things they can work on at home on their own.

Each camper received a t-shirt and on the final day a certificate. There were special prizes given away during the course of the week as well including Bulldog jerseys, bottles of Gatorade and candy.

The Licata Effect

Perhaps the best part of the camp and maybe the most beneficial was the locker room talk coach Licata gave each day. Every morning the boys would gather in the locker room in front of a whiteboard and coach Licata would talk about basketball and life.

“Our motto around here is DAWGS,” Badgley said. Determination, Attitude, Willingness and Grit lead to Success. Thursday’s locker room chat was about grit and the drills that morning highlighted as much. Having Licata address the kids the way he has done for so many years is huge. It doesn’t matter if they are boys or girls, they are drawn to him and they listen. You don’t win 332 games and a Section VI title by luck. From where I stood it looked and sounded as if the current Bulldog coaching staff were learning a lot from Licata as well. Badgley understands what Licata can bring to the table and instead of pushing out former regimes he embraces that experience and his staff and players are rewarded for it.

A number of current Bulldogs players were volunteer coaches; a sign that what Badgley is doing has started to resonate with his players.

“We have a long way to go if we’re going to make an impact in our league. We want to be the team to beat, we want that respect but there’s a long way to go to earn it,” Badgley said.

Like their rival Kenmore West, some of the better athletes turn to a private school for a better opportunity to be seen by college coaches. Unfortunately for many that choose that route they find themselves sitting on the bench as opposed to playing. “There are a number of kids out there not playing, never seeing the field or the court at private schools.. where had they played at the local public school not only would they be playing big minutes but they would be stars,” Hannon said. “If you’re not playing nobody will notice you.”

The Kenmore East boys basketball camp is similar to what Mike Meetze has been doing at Kenmore West. “The great thing about the district is that they are all very supportive,” Hannon said. “From Chris Robey at Edison, Mike Meetze, it’s really good to see and very appreciated. We work together and talk regularly. If a team in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) is going to be great, we want it to be one of us.”

The Bulldogs are onto something. Looking at the banners of all-time leading scorers, Mike O’Bryan (89-93) is still at the top with 1438. Almost 400 points better than the next player. There were a lot of 600-700 point players listed as well, too many to count. Badgley has the program moving in the right direction but more importantly he is tapping into the local community and creating a buzz in the grammar schools that Kenmore East is a program to be proud of.

Organizers are shooting for the last week of July in 2020 to hold their next summer basketball camp. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of registrations double next time around. With Hall of Fame coaches like Mike Licata in the fold, who wouldn’t want their son in that gym?

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