By Perry Hunter
NEW ALBANY —
This past weekend, I got to be a part of something that I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. I had a good idea, but you never know when you go to work at a new basketball camp.
DistinXion, a Zeller family program, is a character-based basketball camp that is held throughout the state of Indiana, and Chapel Hill, N.C. But this past weekend, they stopped at Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg for three days.
I had heard of the camp before and wanted to work it. But when I found out they were going to be in my backyard at S.C., I went through the volunteer process online and was accepted (Whew!).
Why the name DistinXion?
They claim they want to be different in a positive way, and they are.
Why the “X” in the middle of the name?
Hope Zeller, wife of son Luke, came up with the idea. The “X” is actually a Greek symbol/letter for savior or ... Christ.
Steve and Lorri Zeller are the parents of the Zeller boys, most recent NBA pick Cody from IU ... you may have heard of him and they are the main contributors to the camp especially the character aspect of the camp.
The basketball part is run by volunteers, interns and Bryce Bow. Bow, a Goshen graduate, is in charge of the basketball aspects and his energy, desire and love for Christ is apparent to anyone who enters the gym.
The basketball camp is like many with stations that participants rotate around working on defense, passing, dribbling, shooting, really most any basketball skills.
But there also is a station in which Mr. and Mrs. Zeller talk about character. They base the character aspects of the camp off of their oldest son Luke’s business plan his senior year at Notre Dame, which would be to run a character-based basketball camp.
After Luke asked his parents to think about how they raised the three boys (very well done, I might add), they came up with the acronym C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.S.
It stands for character, honesty, attitude, motivation, perseverance, I am responsibile, network of friends and serving others.
Each day, the Zeller parents spoke to the groups of children hitting home these important parts of the camp. (There just might be a book on this in the works, I, for one, will be buying one.)
The Zeller parents personalize their lessons with stories of their three sons (Luke, Tyler, and Cody) while they were growing up.
They are funny, insightful and get the the daily point across to the campers. The Zellers shared their faith and had a chapel this past Sunday morning. But their “religion” was not forced down anyone’s throat.
They said multiple times that they were not perfect parents or people. But when speaking with Mr. Zeller, I claimed that it was very nice of them to take their time to do this because they didn’t have to do it.
He responded with “we want to do it.”
In essence, by hosting this camp they are using the platform that their children have provided them to do the last part of the Champions creed — serve others.
I was able to spend much quality time just speaking with the Zeller parents.
They are humble and easy to speak with. They made me feel like being a better person and parent.
They told small stories about their boys especially when I asked questions such as “how tall did they say each of your boys would be when they were measured as babies?”
“Luke was going to be [6-foot-4]. By the time Cody was born, they stopped guessing," Steve Zeller said.
And they listened to me and others at the camp as if we were important even if we aren’t NBA bound. There was a genuineness about them that cannot be faked over that amount of time in the weekend.
What they are doing is planting seeds in young children to hopefully improve their lives and home by living by the DistinXion acronym.
They are encouraging the volunteers and workers of the camp by them seeing the campers being transformed. And they allowed, for two days, a 43-year-old man to see that there is still good out there and it can be used for even better things ... changing young lives.