📅09 September 2014
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By Brent Tipton

On a typical morning at 5am on Guam, you can walk outside and hear roosters crowing across the whole island. You will not hear roosters crowing at 5am in Istanbul, Turkey, but you will wake up to the Islamic call to prayer. On a typical day at the Micronesia Mall you find people dressed in board shorts, T-shirts, and slippers. In a mall in Istanbul, Turkey you will find women dressed head to toe in Burkas with only their eyes showing. Cultural differences were everywhere at Camp PASS IT ON.

224 players, 100 coaches, and 87 different countries all sat in the Darussafaka Gym, speaking different languages, living different cultures, and wearing different clothing brands. Despite our differences, we were united in one beautiful way, the love of basketball.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent our island at Camp PASS IT ON in Istanbul, Turkey. Takumi Simon and Rosita Duenas also had the privilege to represent Guam as 14-year-old Junior National players. Camp PASS IT ON is a camp sponsored by the Turkish Basketball Federation and its purpose is to unite countries through our common love for the game of basketball, and to equip players and coaches to “pass on” to their countries the skills and fundamentals learned.

Takumi Simon, coach Brent Tipton, and Rosita Duenas at Camp Pass It On. (courtesy photo)

Takumi Simon, coach Brent Tipton, and Rosita Duenas at Camp Pass It On. (courtesy photo)

On the first night of the camp, each player and coach was assigned to a team. About three to four coaches were assigned to a team of about twelve players. Every morning from 9 am to 12 pm, these teams would compete in skill stations that taught the basic fundamentals of offense and defense. The coaches worked together to lead the stations, teaching the fundamentals in a progression that enabled the players to increase their knowledge and understanding of the game throughout each day of the week. After lunch, the players would compete in 5 on 5 competitions, using the fundamentals emphasized throughout the day.

I had the opportunity to be apart of the team, the Miami Heat. Our coaching staff represented three different countries: Syria, Albania, and Guam. Our players represented nine different countries: Turkey, Guam, Mongolia, Maldives, Norway, Malta, Armenia, Nigeria, and South Sudan.

The most incredible thing about this coaching experience was how the love for the game of basketball united our team even though we were from 11 different countries. On our team English was not the first language. Out of the 11 countries representing our team, English was spoken clearly by two of us, me and Takumi. Even though there was a huge language barrier between the coaches and players, one thing was common, we were passionate about the game and we would do anything to learn and improve. Despite differences in culture and language, basketball was our common ground.

Basketball is a universal language understood by all who love the game regardless of where you are from. Terms like “shoot,” “dribble,” “pass,” “cut,” “defense,” “hustle,” and “rebound” were common one word terms to help us teach the game during skill stations and games. It was a phenomenal experience to witness 12 players and 3 coaches from 11 different countries working together unselfishly.

Each night of the week there were activities that brought all the coaches and players together. One of the most memorable activities was being able to see Turkey play Spain in a friendly FIBA game. Spain had five NBA players representing their country and it was a thrilling atmosphere to see basketball being played at that high level.  The Turkish fans had unique cheers and were very passionate about cheering for their team.

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Coach Tipton’s team at Camp Pass It On. (courtesy photo)

The great experience of Camp PASS IT ON will be one that I will never forget. Not only was there great learning for the players, but as a coach, I took away valuable lessons in teaching the basics and fundamentals. Rubbing shoulders and having discussions with older and more experienced coaches revealed to me that I have so much more to learn and that no matter how old I am as a coach I must always keep learning and studying the game.

There were so many things unfamiliar in Turkey. From the food, to the architecture, to the smells, nothing reminded me of home. The only thing familiar to all of us was the bouncing of the balls and the screeching of the shoes in the gym. 224 players, 100 coaches, 87 countries entered Camp PASS IT ON with many differences but we left Camp PASS IT ON united in our love to teach and play the game of basketball.

I would like to express my gratitude to Guam Basketball Confederation and Coach Tony Thompson for the opportunity to broaden my horizons with Camp PASS IT ON and for the opportunity to use what I learned to teach Guam’s Junior National team.


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