Nick Both and Alex Eterno are well known on the Astoria basketball scene. From coaching middle and high schoolers to leading tournament teams to victory and being players themselves, this duo is invested in area sports. Their newest endeavor, an annual basketball camp, is a product of their accomplishments and commitment to the sport and Clatsop County youth.
After using their experience to debut a small camp in 2016 and 2017, Alex and Nick pitched their idea to Marcy Harper, a local State Farm agent, to see about growth. She saw the potential in their plan – two area coaches who know a lot of athletes and are aware of the need for a competitive camp at a local level. Marcy didn’t hesitate in sponsoring their idea and helping them get started on a larger scale. This year’s Coastal Elite Camp is open to 50-60 athletes each week.
“For years it has been really hard for local kids to qualify, afford and travel to camps out of town,” Marcy explains. This year players won’t need to travel far, just up the hill to Clatsop Community College, for a high-quality skill building and competitive camp with experts at the helm.
The basketball camp has been a long time coming. Astoria teens have been requesting guidance from Nick and Alex for a while, so they decided to make it official. “We’d be stopped and asked, ‘Can we get a workout with you guys?’ and it snowballed from there,” Alex describes. Plus, current area basketball camps didn’t offer students what they needed and traveling to big city camps can be expensive. “When you talk to players you hear they want a competitive atmosphere to improve their skills,” he adds. And that is what Coastal Elite Camp is offering.
The two hour camp opens each evening with proper stretching, then a focus on technique. “There were many unique drills that enhanced skills,” says Ally Pritchard, a camp participant and assistant in 2017. “Some were hard to pick up at first, but once we got them down, our confidence was much greater.”
Ball handling, passing and shooting are rounded out by a game where the skills taught that day are cemented through true competition. “At the end of the day we recognize those who have performed on the highest level,” Alex explains. This coaching strategy gives players motivation to go hard and give their best effort each day. On the final day, these “All-Stars” compete in a shootout and game.
Throughout the camp, players learn how to increase their basketball IQ. “You wouldn’t take a test without studying and preparing for it,” Alex notes. Basketball is the same. Both coaches describe playing basketball as mental and physical practice. They share that most kids haven’t been taught how to properly watch a game. Alex and Nick teach the importance of recognizing a defensive strategy when on the sidelines or behind a screen and knowing how to capitalize on it. “We pay attention to details and simplify it,” Alex says. “Plus it’s a great opportunity to see other athletes,” Nick adds.
Not only do campers get to run the court with other high school players, but the camp hosts collegiate level players as coaches as well. Each year Alex and Nick scout for coaches at nearby universities and look for good role models. Once at the camp, the coaches can lay out what it takes to excel and what steps are needed to take the sport to the next level. “We want to arm these kids with the tools they need to achieve at a college level if that’s their goal,” Nick explains.
This year, Jackson Januik with be coaching with Alex and Nick. He is a point guard at George Fox University and an alumni of Seaside High School. His accomplishments abound, including recognition as 4A State Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017.
“Jackson is kind and patient off the court,” Nick says. “All the athletes who attended the 2017 camp gravitated toward him.” Nick and Alex choose coaches like him because they know life skills are important too. “The skills you develop on the court and in the classroom help you be a good person out in the community,” Alex says. There is a lot of opportunity for athletes to interact and learn from their peers. “We want younger campers to see graduating seniors are not only good athletes, but good kids,” he adds.
Coastal Elite Camp’s understanding of sports’ positive influence is an inspiration for camp sponsors. “I am a firm believer that kids without extracurricular activities, like sports, are seriously at risk, more so than ever,” Marcy explains. Nick and Alex are focused on basketball, but see that their lessons can affect players off the court as well. Their coaching styles give athletes the support and motivation needed to be success at anything they set out do, including academics.
Plus, it helps that the duo works in unison. “When you have different coaches with different temperaments, it’s a valuable asset,” Nick says. “When I see a group isn’t getting the most out of a workout I bring in Alex, a new face, and it changes.” Both men are on the same page, but reach players with different techniques.
“The coaches are dedicated to helping young people improve their basketball skills, and in so doing, involve them in a healthy sport,” says Marcy
Registration opened April 1. Boys ages 8 to 17 can sign up for camp from July 7-12. Girls camp will be in session the following Wednesday July 18-23.All early registrants are entered in a drawing for a pair of Portland Trail Blazers tickets and a stay at Sunset Cove Vacation Rentals in Seaside, thanks to their sponsor. Winners will be announced on April 30th. To learn more or sign up, visit the Coastal Elite Camp website.