The legacy lives on
A version of this article appeared in the 2012 Five-Star Basketball Summer Preview Magazine, which will be available at all of the premier events this summer.
If boredome breeds bad habits, there’s no way it would survive at the Five-Star Basketball Camp, where each minute is meticulously accounted for with intense learning, teaching and competition. Here is the story behind the most rigorous aspect of the camp: Station 13.
Station 13 is Five-Star’s signature instructional session, which was founded in the mid-1970s by Rick Pitino on what was called the Old Rice Court at Camp Bryn Mawr in the hills of Honesdale, Pa.
Rice Court featured a steady pair of baskets and near-regulation length court, but it was very narrow, perhaps only 15-feet wide, relegating it unusable for game situations.
While all other courts at the camp were being used, Rice Court was unspoken for and there was no activity planned for those kids not playing.
That would quickly change. Complacency and inactivity were cardinal sins at Five-Star.
Pitino, who was a young and hungry college coach at the time, saw this as an opportunity to work with talented players and showcase his on-court teaching and playing skills. At a time when college coaches were allowed to work as counselors at Five-Star and other summer camps, Pitino would often embarrass the camp’s top dogs, destroying them one-on-one and using it to amplify his message.
Optional, but not really
Station 13 started off as voluntary but highly encouraged. It was a platform for players to showcase their work ethics and for coaches to notice which players took advantage of the extra help and which players opted for the path of rest and relaxation.
“If you really wanted to be great, it wasn’t optional,” Clippers guard and former Five-Star camper
Chris Paul said.
Station 13 was not for the feint of heart. For 20 years, it was held on outdoor courts in the summer’s hot sun. It made even the best players question their dedication to getting better. Through soreness, blisters and scorching heat, campers had to make a decision: escape the sun and rest for an hour, or work on your game at Station 13?
When Five-Star expanded to Robert Morris College in Coraopolis, Pa in 1978, Court One was zoned off for Station 13. Everyone from Connie Hawkins to Willis Reed to Nate “Tiny” Archibald to John Paxson and Trent Tucker stopped through to lead a session. With college coaches peering in, Station 13 became a popular destination.
Stars like Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas and Len Bias all made their marks on Station 13. It evolved from story telling and motivational talks to intense skill and drill work. Coaches would come to camp just to watch their peers teach Station 13. DeMatha Catholic legend Morgan Wootten, a future Naismith Hall of Famer, and other top high school coaches, would also show up to make sure their players were soaking in the bonus material.
Station 13 grew to become a stage for opportunistic hard workers to stand out and for young hotshots like John Calipari to refine their craft in front of terrific teachers like Jerry Wainwright, Ralph Willard, Dave Odom and Will Rey.
From the mid-90s through the early 2000s, when Division I college coaches could no longer work at Five-Star, a new crop of teachers emerged to carry the torch at Station 13, like Ed Schilling, Scott Wissel, Bernie Holowicki, Evan Pickman and Todd Lickliter. Only now, the Station’s popularity would require up to three courts and multiple coaches to teach the flurry of drills.
A moment of truth
In 1998, a loaded Five-Star session descended on Robert Morris College: Steve Blake, LaVell Blanchard, Mike Dunleavy and Jay Williams, among others, were in attendance. Station 13 took place outside, as usual,before it started to rain. College coaches and players moved swiftly to find cover, but Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski remained outside, hiding by the bushes to see if Williams and Dunleavy would not only stick it out, but also to see if they kept their hands in the huddle at the wrap-up. He was evaluating the work ethic they demonstrated and their attitudes toward teammates and coaches.
Williams and Dunleavy were not the only Blue Devils to shine at Station 13. Coach K’s heady assistant coach and former floor leader Steve Wojciechowski was a five-time Station 13 Award winner in his day, tying the all-time record. Another future ACC product would also uphold the standard of excellence. As a rising senior, Chris Paul took home nearly every award, including Mr. Station 13, in his second go-around at the camp.
The Station 13 Award continues to find its way into the hands of overachievers, but we’ve also seen a new wave of talented go-getters earning the coveted hardware. Players like Allonzo Trier and Perry Dozier have brought their A games to both the competitions and Station 13.
Station 13 today
Once optional, Station 13 is now integrated into the camp’s core curriculum. It doesn’t have all the folklore of year’s passed, taking place mostly in top-ofthe-line air-conditioned indoor facilities, but it’s still the go-to place for unmatched teaching and learning.
Kids get everything from position-specific work to “Six Pick-and-Roll Options With the Ball” and “Five
Options for the Screener.” And now in 2012, Station 13 has gone digital, carrying the rich, four-decade-long legacy and expanding its access to students of the game all over the world.
Our vision is for Station 13 to become the most comprehensive and innovative online curriculum for players of all ages and skill levels. It’s in our library of basketball instruction and performance videos. It’s in our blood. It’s Five-Star, “where the teaching never stops.”
A version of this article appeared in the Five-Star Basketball summer preview magazine.