Father and son build bond on the basketball court

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

There were only a couple of representatives from Lunenburg County at the third annual Jayson Gee Basketball Camp last week at Longwood University, but two of them went by the name McGrath.

Central High School Head Boys Basketball Coach Mike McGrath was helping run the camp as a coach, while his 12-year-old son Tyler participated.

(Photo by Titus Mohler) Tyler McGrath prepares to shoot a free throw at the third annual Jayson Gee Basketball Camp last week at Longwood University.

(Photo by Titus Mohler)
Tyler McGrath prepares to shoot a free throw at the third annual Jayson Gee Basketball Camp last week at Longwood University.

“I met Coach Gee shortly after he took over at Longwood, and I pick his brain from time to time to get some ideas for my high school team,” Coach McGrath said. “And so last year, when they had the camp, (Lancers Assistant) Coach (Samba) Johnson called me, wanted to know if I could help them out.”

McGrath said Tyler loves basketball, so “whether I was helping or not, he was going to the camp,” and this was his second year attending.

The elder McGrath figures he helped pass on his love for the sport to his son. “He plays youth football, he’s played baseball and he likes basketball the best,” Coach McGrath said.

Speaking of his father, Tyler said, “He helped me work on the important things in basketball and really helped me to get where I’m at today.”

Coach McGrath said that at the camp, “I was assigned to the older kids in his age group. I guess it was pretty much 10- to 15-year-old kids, and so I refereed most of the games. And of course, in the mornings, we had stations, so everybody would rotate to each station for station work, and I could keep up with him a little that way.”

While several campers said their favorite thing they did during the four-day camp was play basketball games, Tyler said his favorite thing was “participating with the coaches. Getting to know them and all that stuff is really fun.”

Some of the coaches were Longwood players and assistant coaches, and Tyler also got some instruction from his dad.

“When I was doing something wrong on defense, he kind of corrected me so I’d do it right the next time,” he said.

Tyler ended up being on the team of campers that won the camp championship for the older age group, and he also won a free throw competition.

“The championship I wanted to win since the first day, and I was willing to work hard to win it,” he said. “And … during the free throw competition, I was up against very skilled competitors, and I really wasn’t that nervous. I was just kind of focused, and I guess that’s how it helped me win.”

Coach McGrath said, “He’s always coming up to my (high school) practices and shooting on the side and working hard. … I let him jump in with the (junior varsity) kids and do some of the drills. And then he gets mad when some of the drills, I said, ‘No, you can’t do this one.’ He goes off and pouts to the side and shoots on the side. But yeah, he comes to a lot of practices, and he was my film guy last year. This is how much he loves it — he’d actually sit in the stands and did all my film for me. He went to the away games with us, did all of the film, so he’s in love with the sport, that’s for sure.”

Tyler has worked with his dad at home and has played Lunenburg Youth Basketball since he was 8.

“He’s going to try out for middle school this year and see how that goes,” McGrath said. “He plays a lot here in the driveway mostly. He’s got an older brother, too, who pushes him a little bit, too.”

Tyler’s older brother, 17-year-old John McGrath, plays for their dad at Central, but Mike McGrath also has spent time coaching Tyler in organized ball.

“He did this year, and when I play football for the county, he usually coaches,” Tyler said. “I kind of like having him as a coach.”