Basketball Coach ‘Peps up’ Area Youngsters
Cameron Dollar leads a summer basketball camp on the SU campus.
Cameron Dollar, head coach of men’s basketball at Seattle University, predicts a good season for his Division I team.
“We spend a lot of time early on developing a culture so team members teach each other and their team confidence grows,” says Dollar. “They’ve earned the right to have success in this moment and what that brings.”
The tone this Squire Park resident sets for his players is much larger than basketball, though.
“For me, coaching is more than a means to an end. The purpose of my life has always been to facilitate the growth of young people,” he says. “As you go through life, it’s about building relationships, investing in people, giving back and serving others.”
He credits SU President Stephen Sund-borg, S.J., for challenging everyone at the university to contribute more time and en-ergy to the neighboring community—youth in particular.
“That’s at the core of who I am, too. It’s not just talk. It’s who we really are as a university,” says Dollar, who joined SU in spring 2009. “I can legitimately look in the faces of parents and say I’m training their sons to serve others.”
In addition to partnering with the Seattle University Youth Initiative to offer a summer basketball camp on campus for at-risk youth, he works with the Breakfast Club, a group of African American businessmen that sponsors youth who can watch and learn from SU team practices and meet the players. Varsity and junior varsity basketball teams from area high schools and as far away as the Tulalip Indian Reservation near Marysville have opportuni-ties to meet and visit with the SU team.
Rotary Boys and Girls Club’s 7th and 8th grade basketball teams go to SU team prac-tices at KeyArena at Seattle Center and can chat with the players. On occasion, staff at Rotary might notice a youth who needs what Dollar calls “a pep up.”
“We routinely have them come to a prac-tice,” he says. “It’s all about giving them exposure so they can see how our players have the same thoughts, the same struggles.”
When St. Francis House, a neighborhood charity that provides clothing for homeless and low-income individuals, had a need for shoes in large sizes, Dollar arranged for play-ers to donate their next-to-new court shoes. It’s a relationship that continues. “That’s the sort of thing that brings meaning to what I do. And as you reflect, you always find more meaning,” he says.
Family is important to Dollar. His dad Donald, a veteran basketball coach himself, works alongside him as an assistant coach. And Dollar lives within a block of his of-fice at SU’s Connolly Center with his wife Maureen and their young children Jalen, Giselle and Jason. Because coaching is such a demanding job, he chose to live where he would have as much access to his family as possible. “It makes the job more manageable and my wife is better able to grasp how she’s a part of making this go, too,” he says.
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