When Mavs Academy begins its 2023 hoop camp season on Tuesday, a familiar face will be there helping oversee things.

It’s the 31st season of the Mavericks’ hoop camps, and Patrick Gaines has been there since the very start.

To say there have been a few changes since that first youth camp in 1992 wouldn’t be right.

There’s been a ton of changes. And nobody is prouder of what the Mavs’ summer camps for kids have become than Gaines.

One of the things he’s happiest about is that he and the campers will be inside Keller Central High School and not on a blacktop outside in the heat when the camps begin.

“We had some different locations that we don’t use any more and we had a lot of stations for drills that were on outdoor courts,” Gaines said. “I’m not sure the kids today would go for that.”

Or the coaches who help run the 22 scheduled Mavs Academy hoop camps, sponsored by Chick-fil-A, scheduled this summer. They will start Tuesday and run at various locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area until early August. Spots at most camps remain available and more information can be found at Mavs Academy – The Official Home of the Dallas Mavericks .

Gaines, who spent 34 years teaching in the school system, is proud to have been with the Mavs’ camps since the beginning. It’s been quite a ride.

“My son, Xavier, I had him in a camp when he was little,” Gaines said. “Now he’s one of the directors. I just think back to all the kids that came through. And a lot of them come back and end up working in the program.

“You see them grow and develop and it’s really fascinating and rewarding to see them grow up. You feel like we did something for these kids, pointed them in the right direction. And not just for basketball, but in a lot of ways outside of basketball.”

And through the hoop camps, kids and coaches alike learn that basketball is a wonderful conduit for learning about life.

“We try to teach them that there are consequences for everything you do,” Gaines said. “If you miss practice, don’t expect to have a good game. Same thing in life. If you don’t do the things you’re supposed to do, it’s probably going to make life tougher.”

The Mavericks’ hoop camps have weathered an assortment of challenges. They had to have virtual camps during 2020 when COVID-19 hit. They have gone through numerous venue changes. And the participation has grown from small gatherings in the beginning to where virtually all camps sell out.

Gaines has seen it all.

He was there when police needed to be summoned to eject one teenager. He was there when Steve Nash and Uwe Blab attended a camp in Richardson and the question-and-answer session got a little too R-rated.

“There have been a lot of crazy incidents,” Gaines said. “But not as much lately. There aren’t as many older kids these days.”

Gaines has spent his entire life teaching – either in the classroom or as a coach in athletics. He has been part of AAU coaching and still substitute teaches occasionally.

“When my math teacher asked me in high school what I was going to do when I graduated, I told her I was going to go to college and get a degree in physical education,” Gaines said. “And that’s what I did.”

He went to Wesleyan University, an NAIA school in North Dakota, played football for four years and, indeed, did get his degree in physical education.

After that, he was a teaching lifer, going from North Dakota to a Nebraska Native American school and eventually to Texas.

“I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything,” he said of working with Native Americans. “I saw and met a lot of folks and helped develop a lot of kids.”

Something he’s still doing after 30 years with the Mavs Academy.

Twitter: @ESefko

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