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July 20, 2012

Novak camp a chance for kids to hone their skills

Soon, graduated Michigan basketball guard/forward Zack Novak will be playing somewhere overseas, continuing a career that included captaining a Big Ten championship team. First, though, he's sharing his expertise with area youth in the form of the Zack Novak Shooting Academy, camps designed to improve the jump shot and more.

Novak, one of the great leaders in Michigan basketball's history, had started thinking about ways to teach when he was still playing. Those on the U-M staff have long insisted coaching would be in the Ross School of Business grad's future - while Novak isn't committed to becoming the next John Beilein, he's already proven he can mentor, having run a successful camp in his home town of Chesterton, Ind.

"They were running the Chesterton football camp at the same time, so the numbers were a little lower," he said. "But it was a great atmosphere. The group we had was really good, worked hard and was really attentive. They did a good job listening."

The smaller group also gave Novak a chance to learn to learn and prepare for a larger group. His next venture, a July 30 to Aug. 1 shooting skills academy in nearby Dexter (Mich.), will allow him to do that. He'd already received 50 sign-ups as of July 17 based on word of mouth alone.

"The first camp I really got the hang of how to run a camp. It's a lot different than being at Coach Beilein's camp and working a station when you're running it and your name is on it," he said. "It was a good learning experience for me. I got a better handle on things, a better feel for the different drills they do, how to lay out the day.

"If it goes as well as the one back home went, I'll be happy. The biggest thing to me … I got a lot of feedback, and the kids felt like they learned a lot. I tried to simplify thing for them, so the kids had a good time. If the same thing happens here, I would love to keep doing it in the future."

The concept for the Dexter camp started when a contractor working on a room in Beilein's home asked for someone to work on skills with his young son. Novak was an obvious choice. The family was so pleased they approached the Dexter school board, which was receptive.

The camp is expected to fill quickly with the recent media attention and fliers distributed at Beilein's camps. Though it is "offense specific," it's not the entire focus.

"It's a basketball camp with an emphasis on shooting," Novak said. "It's not all shooting … we'll get to a little more of everything and be a little more detailed with three-on-three, tournaments and awards."

Each camper will get more than his or her share of attention, he added. Some of his former Michigan teammates are expected to help out, and several have already expressed interest.

"We're not looking for a set number. We just want as many kids that want to come, boys or girls," he said. "Whoever wants to learn how to play basketball, work hard and have fun is welcome."

Zack Novak's Dexter Skills Academy is open to children in fourth through sixth grades (9 a.m. to noon) and seventh through ninth (1 to 4 p.m.).Visit Novak's camp page at NovakCamp.Weebly.com for more information.


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