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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Giannini talks to St. Joe campers

Former LaSalle University head coach John Giannini speaks to players at St. Joseph Academy’s basketball camp last week. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Several dozen basketball players attended the first of three summer camps that will be hosted by St. Joseph Academy boys basketball coach Paul Rodio this summer.

“I’m happy with the turnout. It’s tough because it’s hot and there’s no air conditioning in the gym, but the kids are working hard and having fun,” Rodio said.

Last week’s four-day camp was for players in grades 8 through 12.

“We provide a high-intensity camp where kids receive instruction on fundamentals like shooting, passing, defense, ball-handling and teamwork. We play competitive games and try to keep it fun,” Rodio said.

Next week, July 12-15, the camp will welcome fourth through seventh graders, and August 9-12 is an invitation-only program designed to prepare players for the upcoming high school season.

Last week, Rodio’s father, St. Augustine Prep head coach Paul Rodio, provided instruction on the opening day of camp, and on its third morning, campers were able to work with former LaSalle University head coach John Giannini.

“It’s important to expose the kids to as many great coaches as we can. To have my dad come in and talk about defense will help make them better. And we were able to get Dr. John (Giannini) to give us some time to talk and work with the kids,” Rodio said.

Giannini spoke about ways to improve fundamentals like shooting and also gave some advice on the things college coaches seek when recruiting players.

“It’s not always about ability. At the college level, coaches notice everything, like body language and how a kid handles adversity. I’m glad to be able to come out and help Coach [Rodio] work with these kids. They have a lot of potential,” Giannini said.

For Rodio, the camp not only provides instruction, it exposes the school and the program to potential new students.

“We’re building something here, not just a basketball program but a school. Things like this give kids a chance to come in, see our school and get a look at what we’re all about. There might be a kid who’s on the fence about where he or she wants to go to high school and they can come here, learn some things and maybe it helps them with their decision,” Rodio said.

Rodio was recently named St. Joseph Academy’s director of advancement and is working to help St. Joe continue to grow.

“It’s more responsibility, but it’s exciting. I think we have a lot to offer, and I tell kids it’s about more than basketball if you decide to come and play here. It’s about a good education and building relationships in a small school atmosphere,” he said.

On the court, Rodio is hoping to build on the success St. Joseph enjoyed during the 2021 season. The Wildcats finished with a 12-2 record, and were ranked among the top teams in the region.

“We’re beginning to earn the respect I was looking for when I took this job. It’s been a tough road, and we’ve had to overcome a lot, but we’re at the point where we’re looked at as one of the best programs in South Jersey. Now we have to keep that going and build on it; get better every day,” Rodio said.

St. Joseph lost some key players to graduation, but Rodio said some solid players have transferred into the school and he has also added a few potential impact freshmen.

“We had some great kids graduate, but I think we’ve been able to bring in some really strong players. That’s what happens when you’re successful. Kids see that and they want to be a part of our program,’ Rodio said.

Camps like the one Rodio hosted last week also help build the program and the school.

“It’s a big part of what we’re trying to do. Give kids a chance to see what we’re all about,” he said.


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