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Children hone skills at Skyhawks Camp
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The Ceres Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department formed a partnership with Skyhawks Sports Camps in March 2002. The Seattle-based organization offers an array of clinics (soccer, baseball, basketball, roller hockey, golf, tennis, lacrosse, volleyball and cheerleading) throughout the western United States to children, aged 4-14.

"They work well with the kids," said Ceres Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Doug Lemcke. "They teach them the fundamentals and make it fun."

Approximately 11 youth, including Wesley Schwieger, Manny Feliciano, Lacy Lewis, Amy Raymond, Renee' Kelly and Nathan Gee, attended the Third Annual Skyhawks Co-Ed Basketball Camp, held at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School, July 12-16.

"They're learning but they're having fun," said Brandy Brezden, camp director.

Brezden, 24, lives in Stockon and teaches at Escalon High School.

The former high-school basketball player ran a camp in Modesto a couple of weeks ago.

"I really like how they (Skyhawks) emphasize positivity and safety," Brezden said.

All of the Skyhawks' directors are college educated. They also went through extensive training and were hired after criminal background checks were completed.

Players worked on dribbling, passing, shooting, defense and rebounding during the week-long camp. They also scrimmaged.

Each session lasted six hours. Wednesday' session started at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m.

"I love playing basketball and the games are fun too," said Schwieger, who was wearing a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey (Kevin Garnett). "I'm going to sign up next year for sure."

Schwieger, 11, participated in the camp for the first time last summer.

"(My parents) signed me up because they know I like basketball," he said.

Schwieger was a member of the Virginia Parks Pacers fifth-grade basketball team during the 2003-2004 school year. He also plays in the Ceres Hoopsters League, which gets underway on Sept. 11.

Feliciano signed up for the camp because he wants to earn a spot on the Grace Lutheran School basketball team in Modesto.

"I'm doing it so I can get better and play (for my school)," said Feliciano, a fourth-grade student, who lives in Modesto but spends a lot of time in Ceres with his grandparents while his father works.

Lewis, 10, a soon-to-be fifth-grade student at Walter White School, plays basketball for fun. With help from Skyhawks, she might end up surprising some of her classmates on the playground this upcoming school year.

"I play at recess but not on the team," Lewis said.

Raymond, 12, is a veteran camper. The soon-to-be seventh grader at Mae Hensley Jr. High School has participated in the camp each year it has been offered. She's also a huge Sacramento Kings fan.

"This is my third year," said Raymond, who was wearing a Chris Webber jersey.

Raymond plans to participate in the program next year.

"We will definitely bring them (Skyhawks) back next summer," said Cambria Pollinger, the city's recreation program coordinator. "They're really great camps." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier