Logan basketball camp dates back to 1970s
by Paul Adkins
The month of June is camp month in Logan County.
With school out for the summer, county youth have all kinds of opportunities to stay active as various camps are being offered.
One of the biggest camps is the annual Runnin’ Wildcat Basketball Camp.
This year’s camp began on Wednesday and was scheduled to conclude on Friday.
With close to 100 campers, camp director and Logan boys’ basketball coach Mark Hatcher divided participants into three venues — Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena, the Logan Grade School gym and also the Logan Middle School gym.
The Logan basketball camp has always been big and has been a lot of fun for area students for four decades.
Hatcher said Coach Akers began the camp in the 1970s and it has been popular every year.
“The camp was founded in 1974 by Willie Akers,” Hatcher said. “It’s been going on for about 40 years. Back then, Island Creek Coal Company sponored the camp and it was called the Island Creek Basketball Camp. That went on until the mid-80s and then it went to Hobet and they sponsored it for a while. Then in the early 90s, Pepsi took over as as the sponsor.”
Hatcher said this year’s camp participation has been very good.
On Wednesday morning, the sounds of bouncing basketballs and squeaking sneakers echoed throughout the field house.
“We’ve got 95 campers,” Hatcher said. “It seems to get bigger and better every year. We used to have about 100 for a long time but it dropped off because there were a lot of kids in Little League. But ever since we went to the Cal Ripken League here in Logan it has helped our basketball camp. They have a little more time now to come to the camp. We divided our camp into three groups — the little kids at Logan Grade, some of them at Logan Middle and the rest of them here at the field house.”
Several former and current Logan basketball players pitched in to help, including former Wildcat greats Stevie Browning and Noah Cottrill. Browning currently plays collegiate ball at Fairmont State University, while Cottrill is a member of the West Virginia Wesleyan team.
Current Logan players such as Brynden “Worm” Street and Zak Miller also served as camp instructors this week.
“We’ve got some of the older players here and they have always came back and helped,” Hatcher said. “This is Noah’s first year coming back and helping. All of my current players are here.”
Also on hand at Logan’s basketball camp this week was Hatcher’s dad, Allan Hatcher, the head coach at Chapmanville Regional High School.
Allan Hatcher will be hosting his first ever basketball camp at Chapmanville beginning on Monday and running through Wednesday at the CRHS gym.
“This is the first time my dad has been able to come over and help me. I’ve helped him in the past with his camps in Kentucky but this is the first time that he’s been able to help me with mine. It has worked out pretty good,” Mark Hatcher said. “My dad’s camp starts Monday and a lot of kids will go to that one. We’re also trying to work up a big free camp, like those old Island Creek camps, maybe not this summer but next summer. We might try to do something like bringing in a guest speaker and making it a really big thing with 300-500 kids.”
It’s a busy month for Coach Hatcher and his Logan basketball team as the Wildcats are also in the midst of its three-week June summer practice period.
Hatcher said his team is set to play in a few area shootout tournaments and will also be heading to Georgetown College (Ky.), Pikeville (Ky.) and Marshall University for a trio of camps.
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