Sun, June 15: Rossow: Dads, kids sweat it out together

Sun, June 15: Rossow: Dads, kids sweat it out together

He can always use the tie and cologne, but David Sholem's hoping for something different this Father's Day.

Like an ice pack. Or a bottle of aspirin. At least a shoulder rub.

Today, the 43-year-old Champaign attorney knows how Michael Jordan felt the other night in Utah. He is sore, groggy and happy to have won.

Sholem and a gymful of energetic adults spent the weekend at the University of Illinois mixing pleasure (playing basketball) with pain (effects of basketball). He and his 13-year-old son, Jamie, teamed up at Lon Kruger's first parent-child camp at the UI Armory.

And won.

Not on the scoreboard (the camp was more instructional than competitive). But with his family, who saw him survive two days of hard picks and jump shots without X-rays.

"I made sure to read the part on the flier that talked about what happens when a camper gets injured," Sholem said.

And to think, we once wondered whether Kruger could recruit.

If Sergio McClain and Marcus Griffin didn't convince us, this weekend's haul of middle-aged talent should. The UI coach enticed more than 70 parents – many of them a bit out of shape – to risk their athletic reputation with their sons and daughters looking on.

For a fee.

"We've found in the years we've been putting this on, the parents usually are the ones who run out of gas," UI assistant Mike Shepherd said. "The kids keep going."

Stakes are high

Jack Schumacher is 12 years old. And he's a better basketball player than his 41-year-old father, UI graduate and Champaign businessman John Schumacher.

Or so he says.

"I hope to take it to him," Jack said before Friday's registration.

The father's less-than-serious response: "At Jack's age, they start getting the idea in the back of their minds that they're better than their dads. That needs to be set straight."

But John Schumacher had bigger worries than stopping his son's three-point shooting. In his eyes, friends such as Sholem, Jim Hagle and Jerry Ramshaw were the ones dressed in Utah Jazz colors.

"A lot of people try to take the Prince of Midair to the hole," he said, "but the Human Eraser always comes out victorious."

Kruger and his staff will tell you this is a curious and welcome byproduct of a parent-child basketball camp. The parents bring their kids and end up acting like them.

They talk trash. They trade elbows. They have fun.

It's about basketball, bonding and, after the weekend, lots of balm.

"It's about them recapturing parts of their youth," Shepherd said. "That's what makes the experience unique."

Coming together

Of the three Bs, bonding's easiest.

The camp calls for parents and children to room together in Spartan conditions. On Friday night, Forbes Hall was booked. Every rock-hard mattress was accounted for.

Campers were asked to bring their own alarm clocks and, if it got hot enough, fans. Little else was supplied.

No phones, no televisions, no room service, no Bulls.

No way.

Sholem said beforehand he was sneaking in a portable TV to keep up with his favorite National Basketball Association team.

Others brought radios.

UI football coach Ron Turner played by the rules. He did not want to get on Kruger's bad side.

(Where else in the Big Ten can you find such an arrangement? Perhaps at Indiana, where Cam Camerom once played for Bob Knight. But try to imagine Tom Davis taking orders from Hayden Fry.)

"I'm a camper, that's all," said Turner, who brought sons Morgan and Cameron. "If Coach Kruger yells at me, it'll be, 'Get in shape.' "

Or, "Start a camp of your own."

And Turner might, considering how popular the parent-child basketball event has become. When Kruger introduced it five years ago at Florida, a handful of campers showed up. By the time he left, two weekends were required to handle the load.

The kids loved the company. And the parents loved the competition.

No matter how sore the muscles.

Jim Rossow is sports editor of The News-Gazette.

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