Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Former Wizards assistant Beard to host local camp

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Last year, Jewell Lyons had recently moved to the Burtonsville area. She was wondering how to go about starting up a basketball camp for kids in the area, when the answer came walking right through the door of the rec center where Lyons was working.

Facing hip replacement surgery, Butch Beard had recently stepped down as the men’s head basketball coach at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He was there at the rec center to prepare for the operation, but Lyons introduced herself, and the meeting led to a small clinic held in Fairland last year.

This year, Lyons is working for the Montgomery County Department of Recreation, and has brought Beard back for a larger encore, the Butch Beard Basketball Camp, July 30-Aug. 3 at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

‘‘It’s just a way of giving something back,” said Beard. ‘‘It’s a combination of things. We try to give them fundamentals to work on. ... It’s also an opportunity to play and compete. And in the end, we have a skills competition were they have an opportunity to win a certificate at the end of the week, see how far they’ve come.”

Beard is no stranger to conducting summer camps and clinics; like many college coaches, he has done so all over the country. But Beard brings a few more experiences than the average camp counselor.

He played nine seasons in the National Basketball Association for five different franchises. Beard’s career included an appearance in the NBA All-Star Game in 1972 and an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors in 1975.

Beard took over as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets for two seasons, 1994-95 and ’95-96, going 30-52 in both seasons. He went on to hold NBA assistant coaching positions, including under Gar Heard with the Washington Wizards in 1999-2000, before heading back to the college ranks at Morgan State.

‘‘Most of the kids [at Fairland last year] didn’t have a clue who I was, but their parents did,” Beard said. ‘‘When the kids really found out, I think they enjoyed the experience. ... I usually have to show off my All-Star ring to have some credibility.”

Next week’s camp, which runs from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each day, is designed mainly for students enrolled in one of Eastern Montgomery County’s five sports academies — Blair, Einstein, Paint Branch, Springbrook and Wheaton. The academies are a program funded by the county council, Lyons said, to give high-school students in those areas more extracurricular opportunities.

‘‘We try to gear most of our activities toward kids at those individual schools,” said Lyons, herself a former basketball coach who now works with the Paint Branch sports academy. ‘‘We want to make sure especially that the kids in the sports academies are getting those opportunities. But I’m not going to turn away any kid who’s interested in doing it.”

Note: One of the camp counselors assisting Beard at the camp will be 2006 Springbrook graduate Sheridan Price. An All-Gazette second-team performer in his senior season with the Blue Devils, Price spent last season at Massanutten (Va.) Military Academy. He plans to play next season at Hagerstown Community College.

To register

Visit the Fairland Community Center at 14906 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, or contact Jewell Lyons at 240-777-6921.