Saratoga summer basketball camp almost canceled after increase in fees

May 10, 2018 — by Anna Novoselov and Callia Yuan

Hundreds of local youths have attended the school’s summer basketball camp. Organized by coach Mike Davey, the camp has operates Mondays through Thursdays for four weeks in June and July.

At the camp, children from third to eighth grade dribble across the large gym, shooting and practicing moves, rotating through stations and improving their skills while having fun.

But the tradition of this camp came close to not happening this summer after the hourly rates to rent the Large Gym from the school district board unexpectedly rose in December to what Davey called an unsustainable level. Fortunately, for this year at least, Sports Boosters agreed to fund the additional cost.

What led to the school board’s decision to increase rates was that Los Gatos High had been allowing community members and groups to use their gym free of charge — a practice that board members considered unwise because of the costs of maintaining school facilities. During a December meeting, the board voted to increase hourly rates to rent the gym from $20 per hour to $90 per hour. (The Falcon emailed district officials for comment but had not received a response by the time of publication.)

“When they raised the rates 425 percent without notice, without talking to us and without negotiating, it was a little bit frustrating,” Davey said. “We’ve had a relationship with the school, paying a certain amount [in previous years], but now I think they’re flatly overcharging. It’s more than any school district in the whole Valley; Palo Alto is the next closest, but they have a camp rate which would make it about $40 an hour.”

After Davey found out about the decision to increase the rates, he applied for a fee waiver, but his request was denied.

Davey decided to speak out at a January district board meeting along with students and parents to discuss possible solutions and the camp’s influence on the community.  Seniors Quinn Dozier, Harrison Fong, James Parden, Harshini Ramaswamy and Will Turpin shared their experiences from the camp, discussing memories and basketball skills gained from the program, both as campers and coaches.

“This camp belongs to the Saratoga community,” Ramaswamy said at the meeting. “It belongs to the young children who will be disappointed to know that their favorite camp will be discontinued. It belongs to the former players who have come back to coach and learn valuable leadership skills. It belongs to Mr. Mike Davey and Mr. Danny Wallace who have poured their hearts and souls into ensuring that this camp is fun for everyone.”

After the meeting, the Sports Boosters agreed to fund the additional costs of this summer’s rental. In the past, the camp had donated 10 percent of its profits to the Global Ischemia Foundation to support the study of brain injuries, but the donation will now be to the Sports Boosters.

“We thought that [their offer] was really fair and also could raise funds for the Boosters, which really need it,” Davey said.

Now, Davey and varsity girls’ basketball coach Danny Wallace manage the camp, with the help of current and alumni basketball players who coach the participants.

“Coaching there and helping kids just reminds me of my childhood memories,” said Fong, who played varsity basketball for four years and went to the camp for five years. “It really warms me to help kids work on their skills.”

As a camper, Fong’s favorite part was the competitions they would have every Thursday, where players would participate in different games like camp lightning and dribble knockout.

“That basketball camp changed our lives,” Fong said. “I couldn’t have been more happy that the Boosters decided to help fund it.”

 

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