Hazen Hoop Camp Rebounds to Full Strength after Pandemic

by Ken Brown

HARDWICK – After the global pandemic cancelled all activity in 2020 and participants were limited in 2021, Hazen Union head coach Aaron Hill’s legendary Hazen Hoop Camp was back in full force last week for its twenty-first season.

Spring-boarding off his sixth state championship with the Wildcats this past winter, Hill and his staff welcomed 63 eager campers from Hardwick and its surrounding communities last week. The week consists of morning sessions for middle schoolers and younger and afternoon sessions for grades 7-9 looking to make the transition to high school basketball.

“We only had 28 campers last year due to COVID, but we definitely bounced back this summer and for our participation numbers to more than double was great to see. I’m not sure if our success this past winter played a part in that, but there were certainly a lot of young kids hungry to get back on the basketball court,” said Hill.

All of Hazen Union’s historic hoopers and many others from surrounding communities have come through Hill’s camp the past two decades. The week-long tutelage and competition they receive from himself, his coaching staff, as well as current and former players is second to none. Hill has guided the Hazen Union boy’s basketball program to six state titles in 23 seasons on the bench. Not yet fifty years old, Hill has amassed well over 300 career victories at Hazen and will more than likely join the legendary “400 club” at some point during the 2024 season, but it is the ties and the relationships his program has forged with the community that he likes to speak of the most.

“Our community and this basketball program have a special connection that is incredibly rare in today’s world. Things like town pride and school spirit don’t seem to exist in many communities anymore, but it’s not like that in Hardwick. The support our basketball program gets from our community is the envy of the entire state and as a result, these kids cannot wait to put on that Hazen Union uniform and play their hearts out for this town,” said Hill.

Last weekend several Hazen hoopers went to the U-32 Team Camp and played a three game series, defeating Ellenburg, NY 71-49 and downing South Burlington 70-54, before narrowly falling to St. Johnsbury Academy 54-50. Next week Hazen’s High School Summer Team travels to Lyndon Institute for a weekend tournament. They are scheduled to tip-off at 9 a.m., on Saturday in the single elimination tournament that runs through Sunday.