Camps for boys and girls basketball and soccer at Fort Lewis College are on hold until at least July 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
FLC athletics made the decision Wednesday to cancel summer camps for individuals and teams through the end of June. That came two days after the college announced it would conduct all summer classes online because of uncertainty around the COVID-19 situation.
“It’s a bummer, but it’s the right thing to do,” FLC women’s basketball coach Orlando Griego said. “Keep everyone safe.”
Summer camps are a crucial fundraiser for the athletic programs on the NCAA Division II campus in Durango. Depending on the camp and its specific cost, some can generate as much as $15,000 to $20,000 after all hosting expenses are paid.
Money from camps can be used for coach salaries, travel expenses and more. Each program can chose how to allocate the funds.
“We have always used a large chunk of the camp revenue to help supplement our budget,” said FLC men’s basketball coach Bob Pietrack. “Camps are essential for our fundraising goals. With that said, we completely support the college’s decision to postpone all the camps. Nothing is more important than keeping everybody healthy.”
For the FLC coaches, the best part of camps is making connections with young fans and their families. As many as 40 teams may register for a team camp. Individual camps usually have around 150 kids representing Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
“Summer camps have always been a source of community outreach for our program and a wonderful summer activity for the youth,” Pietrack said. “We have used it to build bonds with the young players from the Four Corners region.
“Although the basketball camps are canceled in June, we look forward to the time we can all get back together in Whalen Gym.”
Basketball camps have long been popular with area high schools. Without a large presence of club basketball in the region, teams often rely on college camps to see offseason competition and build younger players.
“What the offseason will look like, I don’t know. It’s probably going to be a lot of individual work for the kids,” said Durango High School girls basketball coach Tim Fitzpatrick, who played college basketball at FLC. “It always been good to keep a relationship with Fort Lewis and support them. It’s a good camp where we can get games in the summer to see what the team will look like and what we have to work with. We get a chance to implement new things. We are going to have to try to find alternative ways to do offseason stuff.”
Fitzpatrick is waiting to see if Gold Crown Foundation tournament games on the Front Range will also be canceled this summer.
Ignacio High School boys basketball coach Chris Valdez said his team usually plays between 30 and 40 summer games per season at various camps and tournaments.
“It’s going to be tough. I don’t know where we will get the experience we need,” Valdez said. “You need the summer to improve to become a contender or else you’re still in the same place as before. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t seem like we will get to do anything in the next three or four months”
FLC women’s basketball had an individual camp for kindergarten through eighth grade students scheduled for June 3-5 with team camps scheduled for June 12-14. The FLC men’s basketball team had team camp set for June 5-7 followed by individual camps June 8-11 and June 15-18. Still on the schedule, for now, is the men’s basketball shooting skills camp for players between fourth and 12th grades July 20-22.
The first session of FLC’s boys and girls soccer camp scheduled for June 22-26 fell under the cancellation dates, but the second session scheduled for July 20-24 has not yet been canceled. The girls soccer ID camp July 12-15 for players between the ages of 14-18 and the volleyball camp set for July 19-20 also have not been canceled yet.
The Skyhawks Summer Break Camp scheduled for Aug. 3-7 has not yet been canceled, and the softball kids camp set for Aug. 11 is still on the schedule.
In a news release, FLC athletics said it would reevaluate camp status in early May regarding events scheduled for July and early August.
Griego and Pietrack said they would like to reschedule canceled camps, but they are not sure that will be possible. They plan to announce a fundraiser golf tournament to help make up for some lost revenue.
“We would really like to,” Griego said of rescheduling. “It’s just a concern bringing a lot of people to campus and if that will be allowed.”