The John Mirabello Northwest Catholic Basketball Camp in West Hartford is now in its 31st year.
By David Heuschkel, West Hartford Press Sports Editor
Following his first season as head coach of the Northwest Catholic basketball team, John Mirabello had opportunity to spend the summer on an island in the Caribbean. He was not about to pass it up, especially since it involved basketball.
In his early 20s at the time and single, Mirabello was invited to help coach a team in Anguilla with a hoop mentor.
Burt Kahn had been coaching at Quinnipiac since the early 1970s and basketball was relatively new in Anguilla. He was asked to coach a team on the island and told he could bring an assistant with him. He chose Mirabello, who played for Kahn at Quinnipiac in the 1980s.
“I spent the whole summer down there. It was awesome,” Mirabello said.
The following summer, Mirabello started a basketball camp at Northwest Catholic that he still runs every year.
Now it its 31st year, the John Mirabello Northwest Catholic Basketball Camp began June 24 and runs through July 11. It is divided into three weeks, each one a four-day session from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The first week was for boys entering grades 8-9 and the second week for grades 4-7. There’s a bonus week for all grades from July 8-11.
The camp features games and drills with an emphasis on fundamentals. Multiple gyms at Northwest are utilized. The fee is $150 and all participates receive a camp t-shirt.
Mirabello couldn’t possibly run the camp all by himself. He gets help from Northwest JV coach Karl Herbert, a longtime friend, and some players.
“We want them to have a good experience in that they’re going to learn something about basketball,” said Mirabello, who has been the head coach at Northwest for 32 years and has won over 500 games. “We talk about team basketball. We want them to have fun. We want to make sure at this age it’s fun for the kids. We have some varying degrees of ability.”
In the final week, the kids are separated into groups based on their abilities.
“We want the kids to have confidence in themselves and learn and have fun. We don’t want them to feel overwhelmed,” Mirabello said. “We do a lot of drills, a lot of fundamental drills, and play. They love to play. The last day we try to culminate it all by letting them play a lot.”
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