WOODBURY – A pair of Nonnewaug High School basketball players are giving back to the community this summer as coaches at the You Gotta Believe Basketball Camp.
Senior captain Peter Rickenbach and sophomore Dylan Altieri spent their first week of summer vacation working the YGB basketball camp that was held at Woodbury Middle School.
“It is important to me to have the very best role models as coaches,” said YGB director Bret Nichols, who is also a Woodbury resident. “People who want to make a difference in the lives of our youth.”
Altieri was a former camper himself, and understands the vision Nichols has as coaches. Nichols said he was pleased with his first week as a coach and looks forward to working with him again in the future.
“Seeing how much fun the coaches had and what they did as leaders and role models made me want to be a councilor myself,” Altieri said.
Altieri said his experience as a former camper helps because he has a lot of information from the camp that he can use with the kids. He also likes how Nichols runs his camp and treats those around him.
“He really puts us first,” Altieri said. “He doesn’t just throw is out there with a basketball. He gives us leadership, he explains everything we’re doing, and he gives us knowledge we can use outside of camp.”
Rickenbach was also a first week coach, but was never a YGB camper. He transferred here from Virginia two years ago.
“Rickenbach has great basketball knowledge and background which fits perfectly into what we are trying to accomplish,” Nichols said. “His outgoing personality shines through as you see the kids’ faces when interacting with him.”
Rickenbach said he found out about the camp from former Nonnewaug head coach Tim Drakeley, who recommended him to Nichols as a coach. He has attended several other basketball camps, but likes what YGB does to help build his high school’s program.
“A lot of camps I’ve been to have the training aspect but they don’t get to know the kids at the personal level,” Rickenbach said. “You learn the fundamentals, but we’re really close with the kids as well. It’s almost like a family feel, it’s a tight group.”
Rickenbach also likes what he’s learned as a coach under Nichols.
“He’s really good with the kids,” Rickenbach said. “I love how he’s able to talk with them but at the same time is able to keep them in check.”
Often, Nichols looks for coaches who are either former campers who understand the system and want to give back, or teachers who want to have an impact on children, or college players who want to stay involved and use the basketball as a way to deliver positive messages.
“I always say camps are a great way of not only teaching good basketball fundamentals but using the game to teach life lessons,” Nichols said. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to make great players and great people.”
YGB Basketball Camp will return to Woodbury Middle School for a second week July 31 to August 4.
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