On the South Dakota basketball calendar, the Hansen-Anderson Basketball Camp still stands out.
Now in its 40th year, the annual camp was long the preeminent event in the state for high schoolers to showcase their talent against top competition and potentially in front of college coaches. The camp was founded in 1979 by Dick Hansen and was led for years with high school coaches from around the state, starting in Huron before moving to Mitchell and the Dakota Wesleyan University campus.
“I think it’s a part of South Dakota basketball history, it’s been around so long,” said Chris Gubbrud, who is a Mitchell High School boys assistant coach who co-owns and runs the camp. “To my knowledge, it’s the only South Dakota individual camp that’s been around that long. I went to it when I was a kid, my wife went to it, and ultimately, the goal for us is to keep the camp going.”
But much has changed in the 40 years since, and owner-operators Gubbrud and Erik Skoglund are the first to recognize that. Competition for players’ time is as fierce as ever and the market for basketball camps is well-saturated. The schedules of traveling basketball teams dictate players’ availability and the teams themselves and technology have made the old camp format unnecessary.
With that in mind, the focus of the Hansen-Anderson camp has moved toward skill development for youth basketball players who are looking to climb the ladder of their local high school teams. This year’s three-day Hansen-Anderson Basketball School was open to boys and girls ages 4-12.
“We have to get younger because all of the best players are traveling to big cities and playing in AAU tournaments,” Skoglund said. “We encourage that, don’t get me wrong. To find the middle schoolers who want to compete and helping them reach their goals of making the varsity team and starting for that team, that’s what we love.”
Skoglund, who coached the Mitchell boys for four years and now coaches the Spearfish boys, recalled being an assistant coach at the Hansen-Anderson camp and learning from longtime Armour coach Burnell Glanzer, who was involved with the camp for decades.
He said the camp can make a big impact on young players in a short period of time.
“The name has lasted this long and they can leave with a ton of knowledge. The opportunity to come to a college dorm and spend a couple nights on the campus here, the kids get to have fun and be excited about basketball,” Skoglund said.
Gubbrud said the challenge of keeping the camp in operation will continue, with children being involved with various activities throughout their summer.
“These kids are busy and every year, there’s always that challenge,” he said.
There was about 50 campers on hand Thursday for the opening day of camp, which included skill sessions and 5-on-5 play. Games and awards will be played on the final day on Saturday.
“We’re in a day and age where it’s great that kids play a lot, but there aren’t a lot of kids taking time to develop skills,” Gubbrud said. “The best way to way to learn skills is to come to camp and take time to submerge yourself in it for a few days.”