E.A. Sports Today

Building Champions

Champions Sports Academy brings basketball, volleyball instruction to East Alabama; first camp opens today

Here's a look at the playing surface in the new Champions Sports Academy.

Here’s a look at the playing surface in the new Champions Sports Academy.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

As Todd Ginn traveled throughout the state as a basketball coach and recruiter two things caught his trained eye: Fundamentals of the game were steadily eroding among young players and while there was all this private instruction for baseball and softball, there was none for basketball.

That was his light-bulb moment, but he wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Local entrepreneurs and sportsmen Lenn Costner and Hal Patterson noticed, too. With their backing and more than a year of planning and construction, they have launched Champions Sports Academy, the first facility in Calhoun County dedicated to teaching basketball and volleyball skills to all comers, and put Ginn charge.

Operators hope to draw from a 50-mile radius, giving teams and players a more local alternative to traveling to similar facilities in larger markets like Huntsville and Birmingham. Instruction can be geared to group or individual needs.

“I just felt like basketball as a whole was down a little bit in Calhoun and Etowah counties and I thought fundamentals were lacking a little,” said Ginn, who gave up his post as Gadsden State’s men’s basketball coach to help launch the academy. “I got to thinking in the youth leagues a lot of these kids play three or four Saturdays in January and that’s all they do.

“I’m one of those guys who wants the kids to play everything but basketball was getting left behind a little.”

The facility is housed in a 12,000-square-foot building off Highway 144 in Alexandria that can be easily expanded as the academy grows. Inside there are two regulation high school basketball courts and one collegiate court, all installed by the same company that put down the floor in Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The two high school courts can accommodate a conversion to volleyball. In time, organizers can see an expansion to indoor soccer and indoor football.

“It is an unreal facility,” Ginn said. “The stuff we can do in this facility is endless. I’ve got all kinds of ideas in my head.”

The facility opens later today with a varsity girls basketball team camp with teams from Alexandria, Weaver, Talladega County Central, Douglas, Collinsville and Lee-Huntsville. On Monday they host 12 junior varsity teams, Wednesday and Thursday 14 varsity boys teams and Friday eight more girls teams. By the end of their first week they expect to have served more than 2,000 players.

In addition to the team camps, operators are looking to form summer leagues, host high school holiday tournaments and schedule some in-season showcase matchups. Between chairs and temporary bleachers they currently have seating capacity for 500 spectators.

Once the high schools get into their seasons, the academy looks to attract the K-6 crowd for basic instruction. Ginn, Will Ginn and former Alexandria girls basketball coach Jordan Costner will serve as instructors.

It’s all about gym time.

“Me, Todd and Scott (Ginn) always talked about it being pretty neat if we could open up a gym one day,” Will Ginn said. “We all grew up in the gym and pretty much had 24/7 access to the gym and that’s something kids around here, a lot of them, miss out on. We just wanted to make that available to them.

“We saw a lot of kids doing the baseball thing and we saw a lot of interest in that. I think this is going to be a big deal.”

For more information on Champions Sports Academy contact Todd Ginn (504-6696/todd.championssports@yahoo.com) or Will Ginn (453-1759).

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