"It is tough to play travel ball. It's not easy." That's how Nebraska Chaos Basketball Coordinator Jeremy Epp finished our interview last week. The time, effort, and sacrifice that the athletes, coaches, and parents put into travel ball has always impressed me. And a lot of times, from the surface it looks like these travel teams are all about the competition or the potential chance of getting noticed and maybe playing at the next level.
For Epp and the coaches of Nebraska Chaos, it's so much more than that.
Epp started Nebraska Chaos during the COVID-19 Pandemic. He wanted to develop something while things were uncertain. "My kids weren't going to get to do travel basketball. I went the opposite direction, instead of saying no, I said yes."
In the first year, Nebraska Chaos had two teams and now, they are between 11 and 12.
A big part of the growth of Nebraska Chaos is basketball skills trainer Shane Hennen. Hennen is based out of Des Moines, Iowa, and has developed a reputation as one of the best basketball trainers in the Midwest. The relationship between Epp and Hennen developed after his kids participated in one of his camps.
"We try to bring in Shane once or twice. He does our tryout for us in the springtime...What Shane does a lot of other people can't do... There are just other people out there that are so much more knowledgeable about something. And they do it all the time it's just super awesome to watch."
And of course, during these springtime workouts, the teams for Nebraska Chaos are selected and they play in Omaha, Lincoln, Salina and Wichita. These games are played in the summer months
Obviously, making the Nebraska Chaos teams is the goal for these players. They put these players through a two-hour tryout and then they select players for the teams.
But Epp said making the team isn't everything. He emphasizes it's about learning the game.
"The selection process is a tough thing...There's also kids I tell them this is about development. It's not about winning championships, and it's not about those kinds of things, it's about player development. "
Epp says that another main focus for Nebraska Chaos is to help these kids grow in a variety of ways. "It's fun to watch them take on next-level competition and to see them grow personally, to grow mentally, to grow physically, and to grow spiritually."
Nebraska Chaos will have another camp coming up on July 25th and 26th with Shane Hennen in Holdrege. To find more details and register check out the link here.
To hear the podcast with Jeremy Epp and our discussion about Nebraska Chaos Basketball, check click here and it begins at the 9:15 mark.