Hard Work Camp delivers The Triple

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – For University of Rio Grande men's basketball head coach Ken French, his coaching staff and players, the annual Hard Work Camp signals the culmination of a near month-long grind of individual camps and team shootouts.

For the 331 campers who attend the finale of the Rio summer schedule, it was an opportunity to take part in The Triple. The unique triple-elimination tournament that closes out the Hard Work Camp begin Thursday and ended in the early morning hours Friday.

"It's obviously the crown jewel of the week – a reward, if you will, for all of the hard work the kids put in while they're here," French said. "The camp is more than just basketball because we touch on a lot of different things, but the thing that everybody remembers when they leave is The Triple, and staying up all night playing basketball. They all want to leave with the red champion t-shirt."

Last year's tourney took just over 15 hours to complete and ended shortly after 5 a.m.

"It's an experience - especially if you've never seen it before," added French. "Anybody who was to walk into the gym anytime from 11 p.m. or later would be blown away. It's wall-to-wall basketball, the kids have their sleeping bags and pillows – if your team gets eliminated, some people go to sleep and some stay up to watch or root for another team. It's unique to say the least and it's an experience that they can't get anywhere else."

French brought the idea of the camp-ending tournament with him after his days as both a camper and a counselor at former Marshall University head coach Bob Zuffelato's camp.

"(Former MU head coach and University of Tennessee assistant coach) Stu Aberdeen came up with the concept and they did it at Tennessee's camp," French said. "Stu brought it with him when he did his own camp after becoming the head coach at Marshall and it rolled over into coach Z's camp when he took it over after coach Aberdeen passed away. There's a tradition-rich history to it and a lot of people have been involved over the years. It's changed venues along the line, but it's the best camp in the country and we think it will continue to be."

"We're trying to create an atmosphere where, not only are they learning the game of basketball, they'll create memories that will last a lifetime," French added.

The Hard Work Camp, which is open to boys age 10-18, emphasizes offensive and defensive fundamentals, team play and work ethic. Cost is $280 for overnight campers and $200 for commuters.

For announcements on next season’s camp, stay tuned to Rio Grande’s official athletics website at RioRedstorm.com. For more information or addition questions, call the men's basketball office at 1-800-282-7201 (ext.7294) or 740-245-7294.