Wanting to give back to a community that did so much for him throughout a storied high school basketball career, former Coal Ridge Titan Hunter Gerber gave back in the best way he knows how: through a youth basketball camp.
One summer after hosting roughly 30 kids on Mondays and Wednesdays in June, the former Titan great and current Lancaster Bible College forward went all in on a week-long youth basketball camp this summer, hosting nearly 70 boys and girls from third grade to eighth grade for an educational basketball camp at Coal Ridge High School, where the campers learn the basics of basketball from dribbling to rebounding, while also getting a lesson on teamwork and character from the former All-State guard who holds a number of school records.
“Between my time here in New Castle and in college, I’ve had the privilege of going to several different basketball camps both locally and in Denver,” Gerber said. “Growing up around the game of basketball, those were some of my best memories. Knowing that, I wanted to give the kids in this community a chance to go to a basketball camp close to home, and provide that opportunity in the summer for kids to come into the gym and get some work in and improve as basketball players and people.”
Thanks to the help of his father, Jeff, and mother, Aimee, as well as current Coal Ridge Titans basketball players Leyanna Nevarez, Taylor Wiescamp, Payten Garrison, Andrew Herrera and younger brother Austin, as well as former teammates Brandon Herrera and Aaron Arreola, Gerber has had a ton of help running a large camp that often breaks up into two full courts within the confines of Coal Ridge High School.
“It’s exhausting for sure, but it’s all worth it,” Gerber said. “Just seeing the kids have fun, meeting all sorts of kids, that’s what makes it all worth it. The camp has been pretty smooth so far; we’re having a lot of fun.”
At the camp, players are going through individual drills such as dribbling, shooting, rebounding and playing defense, while also learning how to play transition basketball, utilizing the full length of the floor, which Gerber said is something that doesn’t really happen often at bigger camps due to the limited space and the number of players in attendance.
Aside from the standard drills at a basketball camp, Gerber also set aside time to teach the young players about being a good teammate and playing the game the right way, which was a calling card for the former Titan standout, who won the 3A WSL Sportsmanship Award his senior season, as voted on by the area’s officials. Focusing on the word TEAM, Gerber works through a key word that starts with each letter in TEAM, educating the young players on an important, yet often overlooked part of sports.
“I just want them to be the best teammate possible,” Gerber said. “Its not about being the most talented player or the flashiest, it’s about being a good teammate and doing the little things to help your team and teammates succeed. That has much more of an impact than being a talented player.”
As of Tuesday morning’s session, 68 kids registered for the camp and showed up to learn under the watchful eyes of Gerber and staff members. Being back in the same gymnasium where he put together a number of highlights and made so many memories has been a humbling experience for the soon-to-be junior with the Chargers’ basketball program. It’s an experience that he’s taking in and continuing to grow his love for the game of basketball, a game that has given him so much.
“It’s surreal,” Gerber said. “I miss playing here for sure, but I wouldn’t be in this position if I didn’t play here. It’s been an amazing experience, especially seeing the growth in the camp. To nearly double that number from last summer to this summer has been surreal.
I’m very thankful for the time that I’ve had here and the community around me, and for the opportunity,” Gerber added. It’s something I’m looking forward to continuing to grow, both with the camp and my love of coaching basketball.”