Collaborative camp teaches more than just basketball - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Collaborative camp teaches more than just basketball

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

John Nichols and Maggie Kendhammer play basketball nearly every day, but on two different courts, and against two different opponents.

One manages a disability, the other school and a varsity schedule as a member of the La Crosse Central Red Raiders.

On Wednesday night, they became one in the same, spending nearly two hours together as part of Central's second annual hoops camp, discovering they have far more in common than one might think.

"Everyone was talking about the camp and they were all saying how this one guy shoots half court shots all the time," Kendhammer said. "I was really excited to meet him because I'm the one person that shoots a half court shot, totally air balls it, but doesn't care because it's kind of fun."

 Then I met him and he's just a kind guy, he's just really happy to be here, which I'm happy to be here too."

Examples of new friendships could be found all over the gym, as the nine camp participants quickly warmed up to the Red Raiders. Though the girls organized the camp and ran it with little help from head coach Nahmie George, they too learned something from their partners.

"It's really fun to see how in to it they get and how much fun they can have with us," sophomore Emily Secord said. "Just what they get to experience with us is really cool."

Teresa Koscinzski is a longtime participant in the Special Olympics. After completing her first camp, she said she learned how to dribble between her legs and behind her back.

"It was kind of challenging," she said, though later added with a smile that she knew more than her high school counterparts. "Then they teach you something that you don't know."

For George, the camp offered a break from the grueling schedule. Despite playing seven of its first 10 games on the road to begin the season, he was proud of how receptive and engaging his team was during the camp held the night before Christmas Eve.

"I'm always so proud of them after this night, watching them work with the people from our community," George said. "It's more than just x's and o's. We can work on that stuff all we want but really it's about becoming good citizens, becoming a big part of your community and how to help your community be a better place."

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