Campers and staff

While the 70 kindergarten through sixth graders who attended the youth basketball camp last weekend worked on the fundamentals of ball handling, shooting, passing and defense, for Mackenzie Schweim, one of the camp’s two special guest coaches, the goal of the camp goes beyond the basics.

“Those will come as they get older, but for now it’s to find how much they love the game.”

Schweim is a member of the 2024 Minnesota State University, Mankato women’s basketball division II national championship team.

Representing the MSU,M 2024 men’s national DII championship team, Malik Willingham, a Waseca native, was also a coach at the camp. His goal was to make sure the kids improved and had fun at the same time.

“I just want them to learn it’s ok to make mistakes and try to leave them better than yesterday. Just get one percent better and just enjoy where you are in the moment and have fun with it.”

Both enjoyed working with the youth.

“They bring so much energy,” Schweim said, “and I just love being around them.”

“It’s super fun just giving back,” Willingham said, “and you know, I was a kid once too. I like to see all the smiles.”

Organized by head boys coach Mike Meyer, the camp was held in the school gyms for two hours on Saturday and two more hours again on Sunday. The camp started each day with the entire group on the new gym floor for warmups led by the boys basketball players. After, they split into age groups.

While flag football and volleyball tournaments reduced the number of campers from last year, Meyer was still pleased with the turnout.

“It’s still 70 plus kids who are trying to get better in a great atmosphere.”

Also a guest coaching at the camp were Doug Schweim and his son Carson Schweim, a 6-7 forward who led the Mankato East boys to a second-place finish in the state tournament in March. He was named to the All-Tournament team and totaled 1,194 career points. He will join the MSU,M men’s basketball program next fall.

Doug Schweim, president of Cleveland's HomeTown Bank, was Meyer’s basketball coach at Cleveland. He helped out at last year’s camp, and when Meyer requested his assistance again this year, he suggested his daughter and son join him. Willingham is a friend of Julia McCabe (CHS 2019). 

“It’s nice to have some future Mavericks and some current Mavericks here, and I think that really gave the kids some excitement,” Meyer said.

Fifth grader Emmy Miller agreed. She said she really enjoyed the camp and having the Mav stars be a part of it.

“They are really nice and can do a lot of things.”

Mackenzie Schweim, a Mankato East graduate, is a sophomore. She played in all 37 of the Mavericks’ games this season and totaled 189 points, 92 rebounds, 29 assists and 51 steals.

She started playing basketball at the YMCA as a first grader and said being a member of the DII number-one team still feels surreal, but the celebrations have made the experience a lot of fun. While she wasn’t planning on winning a championship, she knew the Mavericks had the capability.

“We had the pieces to put it together, and this year we really took off as a team. Our chemistry and culture were so good.”

Willingham, a senior, led the Mavs this season in scoring (693 points), three-point baskets (93), assists (158) and steals (51). In his four-year career at MSU,M, he totaled 1729 points.

He has been playing basketball ever since he can remember and hopes to go on to the next level. While he thought he would have a successful career in basketball, he never dreamed he would achieve as much as he has. 

“I had a lot of people around me who led me the right way. It was pretty much going to the park every day and being an outside kid playing with my brothers and friends. It took me a long way. I work hard for these moments, so it is a blessing for sure.”

Before the camp broke, both the Mav players encouraged the campers to continue to work on basketball skills each day. Meyer concluded the camp with by encouraging the kids to take part in the shooting and dribbling challenge this summer. Those who meet the challenge, which the kids do on their own, will be recognized during a boys basketball game.

Also helping coach the camp were the Clipper boys assistant coaches: Travis Mons, Andy Schmidt and Carter Kopet, boys players Blake Lyons, Carson Lyons, Gavin Karels, Kyle Connor, Brennan Kortuem, Kale Kelley, Alex Kortuem, Bode Bartell, Mason Kluntz, Garrett Heldberg, Luke Heldberg, former Clipper Jackson Meyer (CHS 2022), junior high boys coach Nancy Heldberg, junior high girls coach Myrriah Rutz, junior high player Harper Rutz, football coach Matt Miller and fifth grade girls coach Scott Miller.

Assisting Meyer with camp administration were Katie Mons, Becky Meyer, Jennifer Schmidt and Kylee Meyer.

warmup All campers warmed up together.

Mackenzie Schweim during warmupsMackenzie Schweim warms up with kindergarteners Oaklyn Van Eck and Jordie Seely.

Malik WillinghamMalik Willingham warms up with the rest of the campers.

Young campers dribblingYoung campers practice dribbling skills. In the center is first grader Logann Meyer.
Harper RutzHarper Rutz helps with passing drills.

Scott Miller Scott Miller works with a young camper.

Shooting drillCarson Schweim and Mackenzie Schweim watch shooting drills. Up for a basket is sixth grader Tyler Smith.

Boys with basketballFifth and sixth-grade boys work on passing.

Young girls with basketballFirst grader Paisley Schultz and preschooler Shae Miller practice dribbling.

Carson SchweimCarson Schweim sets up as a defender during a ball-handling drill.  

Young girl dribblingSecond grader Paisley Schmidt works on dribbling skills. Watching the exercise is Andy Schmidt.
Boys with basketballsBoys basketball players Kyle Connor, Kale Kelley and Gavin Karels with campers on an offense-defense drill. Bode BartellBode Bartell keeps score in a game of lightning. Guarding MalikGuarding Malik Willingham was about as tough of a drill as they come.

Guarding Carter KopetThird grader Brayden Schmidt guards Carter Kopet in a defensive drill.  

Defensive stance drillA group works on defensive stance and movement.

scrimmage of older kidsThe oldest group played a scrimmage. With the ball is Blair Voit.

Myrriah Rutz leads drill Myrriah Rutz leads a balancing drill.

Lightening gameOlder campers play a game of lightning as the rest watch.

Malik signing autographMalik Willingham had an autograph session after the camp.

Mackenzie Schweim autograph sessionMackenzie Schweim autographs the shirt of Emmy Miller after the camp.