By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
From November to March, Andrew Helton is used to pleading with referees. Come June, he is one.
And a teacher. And an administrator. And whatever else needs to be done when it’s camp time for Eastern New Mexico University.
This is Helton’s second year running the high school boys camps, with about 32 teams set to play at Greyhound Arena over the next two weeks. Last season, there were three teams total, as Helton was instead spending time hiring a staff, recruiting, scheduling and finding a house in Portales.
This summer, those tasks are under control, and he’s able to draw local squads such as Portales junior varsity squads, Floyd, Melrose and Dora for the opening small-school session. The state’s top-tier programs are coming later, with defending 4A champion Roswell and 3A champ Hope Christian coming to the camps for bigger schools. Session II is Monday through Thursday, and session III runs Thursday through June 13.
Floyd coach Rafael Roybal, who also has his team in a summer league at Clovis, said any game against bigger competition helps.
“At this time of year, you can’t improve unless you play,” Roybal said. “Strength is our biggest problem, and Texas programs are football-minded, so they do a lot of weights.”
Teams play anywhere from 11 to 13 games throughout the three-day camp. The clock is set for two 16-minute halves with a running clock in the first 14 minutes.
Friday’s first session featured games from 1 p.m. to about 11 p.m., with Saturday’s schedule including morning games and evening clinics for both players and coaches.
Campers pay one fee for the camp ($75 this session, $90 for either of upcoming sessions), and can pay extra for a dormitory room and use of dining facilities at the Campus Union Building.
Helton said when he was an assistant at Division I South Alabama, similar camps usually drew more teams because Mobile has plenty of high school programs. But he said a Division II school like ENMU can offer a comparable experience.
“Having three gyms (in Greyhound Arena) helps a lot,” Helton said. “Having a good dining option, having living arrangements, it’s an ideal camp situation.”