Repko sisters run Hill girls basketball camp

Photo by Barry Taglieber Sue Repko, right, and her sister, Michele Dunleavy, discuss particulars at their first girls basketball camp at The Hill School from June 17-20.
Photo by Barry Taglieber Campers line up for a drill at the girls basketball camp at The Hill School, which was held from June 17-20.

POTTSTOWN - Sue Repko has a new title as the head girls basketball coach at The Hill School for the upcoming 2014-15 school year.

Along with that job, Repko and her sister, former Phoenixville High School head coach Michele (Repko) Dunleavy, have directed a girls basketball camp on campus this week for middle school-aged youngsters. The camp ran mornings and afternoons from Tuesday through Friday.

Twenty-one girls participated in the event that has been run by other Hill girls basketball coaches previously.

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“We are hoping to build it bigger and better,” said Repko, who previously served as assistant girls basketball coach for the Blues and also is an assistant coach for softball.

Girls in grades four through nine participated in the drills, ranging in age from 10 through 15. Some of them traveled from distant places like Reading and Gilbertsville, as well as Phoenixville and Spring-Ford areas, to take part while others were closer to home from Pottstown and Pottsgrove.

“We really drew from the whole surrounding area,” said Repko. “We have a bunch of kids from St. Al’s (Aloysius). We were on Facebook, and The Hill School has connections.”

The goal is to teach fundamental basketball skills with drills while having fun at the same time. The Repkos played basketball at the former St. Pius X High School during the days of former head coach Bernadette Travers, who had a long-standing run of success with the Winged Lions. Those teams included numerous excellent individual players who went on to pursue basketball at a high level in college.

Repko played basketball at Princeton, combining Ivy League academics and athletics. She earned her psychology degree from there and then earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning at Rutgers. She also holds an MFA degree in literary nonfiction from Bennington College. She is also founder of Positively Pottstown, a community blog, as well as the author of a book entitled “Legendary Locals of Pottstown” that came out last year.

Repko previously served as head coach at Princeton Day School in New Jersey for five years from 2002-07. While there, she and Dunleavy ran a similar camp to help serve as a feeder program. The attendance at that time was 35-40, which Repko considers a good size. Both women like to blend their teaching with their coaching since they consider basketball and other sports to be an extension of the classroom. Repko will also be in her second year of teaching 10th and 11th grade English at The Hill.

The Hill School boys recently completed their camp with more than 100 participants, under head coach Seth Eilberg. The Blues enjoyed a fine winter campaign last winter that helped boost numbers from the 60-70 range to more than 100. Repko would like to see her numbers grow in a similar fashion, although not quite as high to maintain a lot of individual instruction.

“We think there’s great potential to pull in more kids,” said Repko.

Her varsity Blues players for the upcoming season assisted at the camp as counselors. Repko viewed that as a positive approach to bonding for the new season.

Next year, Repko will have a roster that includes eight seniors, three juniors and one sophomore. So she knows she has a big job to recruit players for the future to build her program and hopes the camp assists her with that task.

“This has been a huge adjustment for me,” said Repko. “Being at a boarding school is different. Michele had a summer job in the kitchen here and spent more time on campus. It is a big adjustment living on campus. You have dorm duty, weekend duty. It is an all-consuming job and lifestyle.”

Repko also assisted Dunleavy for a year during her tenure in Phoenixville.

“That was a great experience,” she said.

The camp directors aim to be patient and careful with the campers, especially the very young players who are just beginning to learn the sport.

“There has to be a comfort zone,” said Dunleavy. “We reiterate that you are going to be frustrated and miss shots. They are developing a bunch of stuff. They are little (now), but they are going to grow. The resiliency isn’t there in dealing with adversity. The kids need more positive reinforcement, instead of negative. We are admitting mistakes in coaching and teaching to them. It is good for them to hear that from us. It is a nice challenge Sue has here.”

Friday afternoon’s session included a talk on rules by veteran PIAA official Dan Dvorak, a Phoenixville resident; and his daughter, Ellen, a graduate of The Hill who played basketball and water polo for the Blues.

Repko plans to check out local travel teams and AAU summer leagues in order to help land recruits.

Follow Barry Sankey on Twitter @BarryBSankey1.