Dale Greenlee’s Rockford All-Star basketball camp won’t be returning
As the Flodin Boys Club found a way to keep their basketball league going during COVID-19 times by moving outside to a golf course parking lot, the pandemic ended one of the camps in Rockford’s most enduring and prestigious annual basketballs.
Dale Greenlee, 1971 Guilford graduate, started in the Kansas Final Four team in 1974 and was captain of Kansas as a senior in 1975, held his Rockford All-Star Basketball Camp for 38 years. The camp, which started at Eisenhower Middle School and then moved to Jefferson for nearly three decades before ending up at Belvidere North, was canceled last year due to COVID-19 and this year Greenlee decided to end the camp for good.
“It gives me a little more vacation time, but it feels weird,” Greenlee said. “This camp has been such a big part of my life.”
Bill Wilhelmi coached with Greenlee at camp for 38 years.
“My favorite part of the camp,” said Wilhelmi, “was using the same philosophy year after year:“ You are only as good as you want. If you want to work hard, you will do very well in this camp.
“It gave them a chance to work hard and not feel intimidated by someone better than them. We had children who never wanted to leave us. They came back year after year.
The same was true for many coaches. Wilhelmi, Carl Armato, Dan Green, Cindy Hamilton, Doug Weyburg, Tom Honeycut, Jack McCarthy, Bobby Hearns, Nate Newsome, and Nicole Gallas have stayed with Greenlee for decades.
“It was a labor of love for all the coaches and a wonderful experience for me,” said Greenlee. “We love to get together and work with the kids. What we were proud of was that our camp was there to develop individual skills. I’ve been to some of these big camps where they put you on a team and you play games. It’s what kids love, but it doesn’t always build skills.
“We do exercises in the station. We are working on ball handling and passing, shooting, rebounding and defense at 40 minute stations. Each player gets each coach during camp because you rotate. Some of the other camps, they put you on a team and you have that coach all week.
“Plus, when they put you on teams, the stronger players dominate. If you’re an inexperienced player, you don’t get a lot of hits. Everyone receives the same number of hits on station exercises. We also play 2v2 and 3v3. You don’t get lost in shuffling small-scale games. “
Greenlee said when he started his camp the only other in the area was Steve Goers ‘Fightin’ Titan camp in Boylan. Now he says each high school has its own camp or clinic.
Bill Hanzlik, a former Beloit Memorial and Notre Dame star who played 10 years in the NBA as a defensive specialist, was one of Greenlee’s first coaches at camp and stayed with Greenlee for the five days of camp.
Greenlee had realized the importance of basketball camps since attending Ray Meyer’s DePaul camp as a 15-year-old Guilford rookie.
“My parents put me on the train to northern Wisconsin; it feels like it was 100 years ago, ”Greenlee said.
Over the years, former Rockford Lighting owner Wayne Timpe and his family have donated to Camp Greenlee to help keep costs down. This low-cost, high-quality couple made Greenlee’s weeklong camp so popular that it has ended up serving nearly 10,000 children over the years.
“We’re very proud of it,” said Greenlee. “Many young men and women have passed through our camp. And a lot of coaching sons and daughters worked in our camp. It has become a very large extended family.