Camden County College / Williamstown High School / Panther Basketball School
Crispin Basketball began with my “Pop.” Cliff Crispin played ball at Woodstown High School and Temple University in the 1950’s. His 1958 Final Four (3rd place finish) team included Guy Rodgers and Billy Kennedy (thus, his minutes were limited!). He then went on to coach at the High School and Junior College level for over 30 years. He is truly the original in the Crispin family. The original baller, the original coach, and the original camp director.
Growing up, my brother and I would spend at least one week a year at the Camden County College Cougar Basketball camp. We loved every minute of it. Looking back, I did not appreciate how special it was to not only attend a fun basketball camp each summer (there weren’t many back then), but to spend the week with my Pop. We had plenty of time with him over the years, but the days at Camden County are ones Jon and I refer back to often.
During my high school and college years, Jon and I worked various different camps. One steady one was run by our Uncle Grant. Coach Shivers was the head coach at Williamstown High School and was patient enough to hire the both us even though we probably weren’t the best workers!
In 1998, my father, Steve Crispin, launched a new camp at Pitman High School called The Panther Basketball School. This camp consisted of two sessions, a morning session for middle school players and an afternoon session for high school players. His focus was on the teaching various aspects of the game and his model is one we continue to build upon today. Naturally, Jon and I worked the camp each year, but my father ran a tight ship and ran a great school each summer.
This camp fazed out in about 2003, but was launched again by my brother, Jon, and Bob Fisicaro in 2006.
Panther / Crispin Basketball School – Crispin Basketball (2006-2013)
My brother, Jon, and Bob Fisicaro revived the Panther Basketball School is 2006, utilizing my father’s model and focus on teaching the game. I (Joe) joined them in the summer of 2008. It was during the mid-point of my career that I developed a clear vision for coaching, so I also began working with some individual players during my offseason (I was still playing professionally overseas). It was during this time that we began running all our programs under the title of Crispin Basketball.
I became the primary director of our summer camp, while also publishing a blog as I began researching teaching concepts and player development. (Of course, Jon and I like to joke that the primary reason for this transition is because I have never been good not being in charge, but it is fair to note that he was also living on the west coast at the time). During these years, we primarily ran a camp one week each year in Pitman, while working in our respective areas for individual players.
But then I retired and really began my venture into the world of youth sports.
Crispin Basketball (2013 – Present Day)
I retired from playing professionally in 2013. My first seasonal introduction to the world of youth sports consisted of coaching my 3rd grade daughter and kindergarten-aged son at the State College YMCA. Following the winter season, we moved back to South Jersey and prepared to launch our summer camp when Bob Fisicaro approached me with another idea. Summer league for our sons.
We tinkered around with a few ideas, but settled upon 3-on-3 “full court.” It was an awesome experience letting kids play and one that served as the foundation for our future. As I settled back into town, various folks would ask me if I was willing to work with their kids or with a small group. This steamrolled a bit until I realized we could serve the youth in this area with some good programming and coaching. But there was one final key.
I had a vision for helping kids play (really play!) the game better and enjoy the game more, but I was well aware of my weaknesses. I needed a great partner. Thankfully, I married one. Erin agreed that it would be impossible for me to serve people well if all the administrative details were involved, so we began running various small programs over the course of the next year with her as our general manager. She runs the details of every show. It really was the beginning of Crispin Basketball as we know it today.
Over the past 7 years, we have had the privilege of serving thousands of kids in the South Jersey area through camps, clinics, workout groups, individual workouts, leagues, coaching programs, and our club program. Each of these programs were developed little by little over the years, but they were always motivated by a simple desire to help kids of all ages and abilities play the game better and enjoy the game more.
Thankfully, we have not only added programs, but great partners and coaches. My father. My brother. Bob Fisicaro. Demetrius Poles. My cousins. Friends in coaching. And many others who seek to serve kids well as they pursue greater joy in the game. I really count it a privilege to serve in this capacity and aim with each passing year to improve what we do and how we serve…and also how many. We want to change the game for the greater good and empower those we impact to pass it on.