Basketball camps generate loyalty

Louie O'Gorman is directing a girls' summer basketball camp at USC Aiken's Convocation Center this week. The retired teacher, coach and school administrator has been running summer camps for 45 years.

Louie O'Gorman started operating a summer basketball camp in 1964, and 45 years later, he's still at it. Scores of private school players and younger girls throughout the state are engaged in scrimmages at USC Aiken's Convocation Center and other campus facilities this week. Boys' teams and players participated in camps last month. "Every year I say it's time to stop," said O'Gorman of Chapin. "But then the telephone starts ringing about when and where the camps are. That gives me the energy to keep doing it. The kids keep me going." If his name sounds familiar to some folks, it's because he's the father of Dr. Kevin O'Gorman, an Aiken School District associate superintendent. The younger man's siblings are also educators - his brother a DePaul University professor and his sister a University of South Carolina math professor. Over more than four decades, Louie O'Gorman has held the basketball camps at a number of venues, including nine years in Ireland, where the O'Gorman family hails from. For the past two decades, the program was housed at Converse College. "USCA and the Convocation Center are the best-kept secret in the state," O'Gorman said. "The kids have rooms at Pacer Crossings and the faculties at the center are great. People have been as nice as they can be to us." O'Gorman played college ball for legendary coach Al McGuire at Belmont Abbey College before McGuire went on to fame at Marquette University. He then spent four years as the girls' coach at Denmark-Olar High School, where the teams won 77 straight games, lost a contest by one point, then won 22 more in a row. On McGuire's recommendation, O'Gorman returned to Belmont Abbey as a coach for another four years. Since then, he has worked as an administrator at St. Leo College in Florida and as a coach, teacher, administrator and headmaster at public and private schools, including Irmo High School in Columbia. He retired in 2003 and concentrates on his summer program. His camps have generated longtime loyalty from several schools, O'Gorman said. "The camp is built on schools bringing an entire system," he said. "So we've got the younger kids in the fundamentals at the old USCA court, two other leagues for middle school girls at the Convocation Center and a fourth here on the (main) court." Elizabeth Moses, head coach at Hammond School in Columbia, enjoys bringing her players to O'Gorman's camp. Her players include 6-foot-5 junior Elaine Epting, a three-year starter who was swatting opponents' shots and altering the flight of other attempts during a scrimmage Wednesday. "For three and a half days," said Moses, "our girls get to have a basketball in hand at a time when they have so many other things going on during the summer." Contact Rob Novit at rnovit@aikenstandard.com.