Haase comes to life at benefit camp
Now many young basketball players in South Lake Tahoe understand why old-timers in town make such a fuss over Jerod Haase.
That well-dressed bespectacled coach they have often seen on ESPN came to life over the weekend.
Haase gave up 14 hours of himself and his basketball knowledge at a benefit basketball camp in his name Saturday and Sunday at South Tahoe Middle School. By the time Haase was through with 102 campers on Sunday afternoon, some of the children knew North Carolina’s starting five from 2003-04 and that it was OK to fail.
With such a brief period to work with the local hoopsters, Haase didn’t let the limited time restrict his teaching.
“You definitely want to teach them the fundamentals, but you also want to let them play and run up and down a little bit, too, and obviously have a lot of fun while you do it,” Haase said.
Since Haase began coaching at Kansas and more recently at North Carolina, he hasn’t been able to do the summer camps he once did with former Viking coach Tom Orlich. But returning to the gymnasium that helped launch his basketball career brought back some special memories.
“I had a great time playing in this gym,” Haase said. “I would always come in here a half hour before school and play.”
The University of North Carolina assistant coach never stood out because of his speed or quickness while helping South Tahoe win its last state title in 1992. His trademark hustle and desire to do his best, however, were transparent as he ran back and forth between two gyms on Saturday, giving equal time to third through fifth and sixth through eighth-grade camps.
“You can tell he has a lot of experience doing these camps,” said Chris Proctor, formerly the STHS girls’ basketball coach. “He’s picked up a lot of education techniques and mannerisms from Roy (Williams), which is pretty cool.”
Many of the campers weren’t born when Haase was tearing up Northern Nevada teams in the early 1990s, but they didn’t take long to embrace his personality and teachings.
“He’s just nice and he perfected my shot,” said eighth-grader Rand Norberg.
Haase didn’t limit his talks to basketball. The 1996 second-team Academic All-America at Kansas repeatedly got the campers’ attention with unusual trivia. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe had six toes? … If you took one olive off every airline, $40,000 would be saved … Females blink more than males … more people fear spiders than dying.
“His personality is cute enough where they enjoy the camp,” said Haase’s mom, Carol, who didn’t mind sharing her son with the community during one of his infrequent trips West.
He also had a message about drugs and alcohol at the conclusion of Saturday’s camp. He told them that no one asked him to use drugs while attending the local schools. He reiterated how important it was to keep saying no and surround themselves with friends that won’t put them at risk.
“It’s hard to break down barriers initially and get them to trust you a little bit. But once they start enjoying themselves, it’s really a lot of fun,” Haase said.
The respect that Haase has in the community and coaching ranks was evident in his weekend support crew: former STHS assistant Larry Reilly; former Viking guard Lon Rork (now an assistant at St. Mary’s); former STHS teammates Duncan Atwell (assistant coach at Hiram Johnson High in Sacramento) and Brett Long; Proctor; current STHS girls coach Mark Shehadi; Viking alums Dan McCauley and Joby Cefalu; STMS coach Chris Holmes and STHS freshman coach Andy Braun.
“I know the weekends are usually people’s times to relax and have fun, so it’s awfully nice for them to spend their weekends up here,” Haase said. “It’s been fun talking to them because I don’t get to seem them on a regular basis.”
Rork put his troops through a frenetic dribbling exhibition that the late “Pistol” Pete Maravich would have enjoyed.
“Our community gave so much to us growing up, so it was nice to come back and do something for the community,” said Rork, who played for Swarthmore and Occidental.
The money raised from the $100 per player two-day camp and the $50 per player single-day camp will be used to fund 2004-05 STMS athletics. Lake Tahoe Unified School District has significantly decreased sports funding and fund-raising efforts have been in full swing to prevent some sports from being cut.
“I’ve heard all about it through my family and keeping up to date with everything,” Haase said. “It’s a sad, sad situation. I am stunned and it’s sad it got to this point, but now that it has, it’s about making a plan to make it better.”
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