Collin Akin, Thomas Burrier, and Jacob Vaughan made the trip from their small town of Stockdale to San Antonio for a week-long Spurs Camp in 2011.
They loved it so much that they came back the next year. And the next. And the next.
For seven straight years, the trio has been coming to Spurs Camps. The three families scheduled vacations and other summer activities around Spurs Camps as their boys begged to go back year after year.
Akin and Burrier have grown more than a foot taller in that time, while Vaughan – a linebacker and fullback on the football team – admitted he’s grown wider.
They’ve also met Tony Parker, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Sean Elliott and others along the way as the three said they’ve created memories to last a lifetime.
“We’ve learned a lot about basketball, but it’s more about making friends and having a great time,” Vaughan said. “That’s what kept us coming back.”
All three have gone on to play on Stockdale’s basketball team and will be entering their senior year in August. Because they’re all about to graduate, this year’s Spurs Camp is their last.
“It’s bittersweet,” Burrier said. “We’ve grown up here.”
They’ve made international friends in other campers from Mexico and Columbia, keeping up with them on Snapchat and Instagram to see if they’ll be back for another camp.
“It’s a basketball camp, but it’s also getting us ready for the real world,” Vaughan said. “Stockdale’s a pretty small town, but we’ve been able to meet so many people through these camps.”
Every camp includes a five-on-five tournament, and all three have been tournament champion once each.
“If someone wins this year, it’s bragging rights for life,” Akin said.
As another summer of Spurs Camps comes to a close, there is still one camp remaining with open registration this summer. The final Spurs Camp of the season runs from July 24 to 28 at Mission Concepcion Sports Park.
“Those kids are the trifecta,” said Spurs Camps Director Nevil Shed. “I’ve watched them grow every summer. I’m going to brag and say that for them to come back for so many years, they must be learning something.”
Burrier said learning from Shed is one of the biggest thrills of Spurs Camp. When the Stockdale trio attended their first camp in 2011, they went home and watched “Glory Road,” the film based on the 1996 Texas Western NCAA Championship team that included Shed at forward.
All three called Shed a legend. And the fact that a legend calls Akin, Burrier and Vaughan the “three knuckleheads?”
“It’s an honor,” Burrier said.
While tens of thousands of kids have come through Spurs camps over the years, Shed said he’s still floored every time he sees campers grow up or a parent drops off a camper and mentions that they attended Spurs Camps back when they had a summer vacation.
“For a lot of families, Spurs Camps are a tradition,” Shed said. “There’s a second family for them here.”