AU wheelchair basketball camp fosters competition, friendship for Southeast athletes

Wheelchair basketball camp fosters competition, friendship for athletes in Southeast

Auburn, AL (WTVM) - Coach Robb Taylor knows firsthand what it takes for athletes to win on the world's most competitive stage.

As assistant coach for the U.S. Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team, he helped players win Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Now, as head coach of Auburn's Wheelchair Hoops Team, he wants to teach the next crop of star players.

Taylor said the best part of hosting this first-ever camp, held inside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, is spending time with the 14 young athletes, all of them from different cities spread across Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

"It's been fun getting the kids here on campus, having them interact with our student athletes," Taylor said. "I think they are having a lot of fun as well."

Jay Denning, a seventh grader from Tennessee, said he prides himself on defense and wanted to pick up new strategies, as well as compete against his fellow campers.

"Fun, I'm actually getting a workout," Denning said.

Taylor also brought in players on the university's wheelchair team to coach the young attendees.

Emily Hoskins, one of Taylor's old friends and Denning's head coach, came with her team, the Music City Thunder in Nashville, to pass on the love of the game to the kids.

"Basketball was the one that was like, 'This is it. This is what I love, this is where I need to be,'" Hoskins said.

Hoskins won two gold medals as a member of the women's Paralympic team in Athens, and in Beijing with Taylor. She said she sees the potential to grow the sport by continuously holding these types of camps.  

"I love being able to sort of pass it forward and pass that knowledge and passion to these kids, who may be future college athletes, or future Paralympians," she said.

Taylor said he can't wait for more kids to come back next summer.

"This is just the first of many," Taylor said, "and hopefully, in the future, it's not a weekend, but a 3-4 day camp."

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