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Close Instruction is one element of Cody Kunigel’s basketball camps, held throughout the summer, fall and winter.

Through the summer, there are dozens of sport camps for kids in Hood River, coached by local residents who want to give back to the community. Basketball is one of the popular sports for these camps, with skill and developments sessions popping up from June to November when school or league seasons get underway. Several of these camps in Hood River share a common person: Cody Kunigel.

Kunigel is a substitute teacher in Hood River County and working towards his Master’s in Secondary Education. He’s also a fierce fan of basketball, having played at collegiate and semi-professional levels and a father who played professionally for a short time.

“Basketball is my first true love, outside of family and God,” said Kunigel. “I grew up a hooper and embody that culture; there is no off-season, hoops is just what we do.”

It would certainly seem so. Kunigel has participated in or personally ran several basketball camps this year and served as the boys basketball coach at Hood River Middle School this past year. He also intends to host future workouts in the fall and winter, holding true to the no off-season motto. Kunigel’s camps focus on fundamentals and skill development, and he makes a point to focus on positive reinforcement, rather than a more aggressive approach.

“Sharing the knowledge, insight and helping instill a work ethic into these young kids is a passion of mine,” said Kunigel. “Basketball is an opportunity to have positive impact and inspire these kids to believe in themselves and strive for their best.”

That isn’t to say Kunigel takes it easy on the kids. The workouts and camps consist of repetitive drills and constant play, broken up with breaks for rest and water. Kids are separated based on age and skill level, with differences significant enough not to discourage players but still allow a challenge amongst their peers. One’s personal experience in basketball is irrelevant, as is their ability to play; if you love the game, you have a spot.

“Facilitating and fostering self-efficacy through a positive cultured aimed at building participants’ self-esteem and confidence is a cornerstone of any of my offerings,” said Kunigel. “I see and experience improvement at every offering. I am proud of the kids who experience these developments; this whole thing is really about them, not me.”

As long as basketball is around Hood River, Kunigel will be easy to find.

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