Personal Best: Owen uses camps to instill hoops, life lessons in kids 

From camper to co-president, Nick Owen grew up with Legarza Basketball Camp.

The Redwood City native was 7 years old when he attended his first Legarza camp, organized in 1989 by renowned youth sports expert Mike Legarza.  Owen returned most summers until the eighth grade, learning the game and preparing for his prep and college hoops career.

After further developing his skills with the Central Middle School team, Owen enjoyed a stellar basketball career at Sequoia High School, where he was team captain his last two years.

As a senior, the shooting guard made all-league honors, guiding the Cherokees to the Peninsula Athletic League championship while leading the league in 3-point shooting.

Playing four years for the UC Santa Cruz team, Owen would return to the Legarza Basketball Camp during the summers. Each year, his level of involvement increased, as he was promoted from coach to gym director to summer site director, responsible for two gym directors, 16 coaches, two trainers and 175 campers.

After earning a Masters degree in sports management from USF in 2008, Owen made the difficult choice of opting for a career with Legarza, leaving his post at Foothill College as assistant basketball coach.

“I wish that I had time for both, but camp captured my interest even more: teaching the kids social skills, how to make friends, teamwork and team building,” said the 27-year-old Owen.

As director of operations for the organization, Owen has transitioned from Legarza’s protégé to partner. 

“I’m the guy who’s on site,” Owen said. “[Mike] has the overall vision. We talk everyday about where we’re heading.”

Owen has been busy recruiting coaches ahead of the organization’s free camp being offered next weekend and in advance of this summer’s schedule at sites in San Jose, the Peninsula, San Francisco and Marin. 

“We’re big on teaching in a fun way. We’re teaching to learn to love the game, so the campers can love to learn and enjoy getting better,” said the Redwood Shores resident. 

Reinforcing drills and encouraging practice as fun elements, not chores, are also tenets of the camp.

“Repetition with the right form is far more effective than repetition with bad form,” Owen said.

No NBA players have yet to surface among the 75,000 campers to experience Legarza; nonetheless, at least 10 ex-campers are now local high school coaches as well as countless others who, like Owen, became stars in their own right on the hardwood.


Legarza Basketball Camp


Second annual free camp: Woodside Elementary School, 3195 Woodside Road, Woodside; Saturday-Sunday; participation limited to 300 kids

Summer camps: Open to all kids K-8th grade

Sign-ups: Spots still available, although the camps have been full each summer

Information: (415) 334-3333 or

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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