Brookfield's Dave Carnell is a very fortunate guy. Not everyone has had the opportunity to see his passion turn into a benefit for others.
Carnell is currently the Program Director of the Jr. Lancers, a boys basketball program which covers fourth through eighth grades. Carnell and his staff run tryouts, pick the teams, find coaches and facilities and set up league schedules and tournaments.
Down the line, some of the players who have come through this program will make up the Brookfield Central High School basketball team coached by Mark Adams.
"Youth sports have been a passion of mine," Carnell said. "I just enjoy teaching kids how to play sports."
Carnell has a comprehensive background in youth sports. He worked at the West Suburban YMCA for eight years coaching different youth basketball, football and basketball programs. He also had a successful stint as the girls basketball coach at St. Joseph's in Wauwatosa.
"It was one of the most enjoyable times of my life," said Carnell, whose team won three conference championships in his four years as a coach. His team was also the first one invited to the prestigious Sierra Padre Tournament, got to the quarterfinals and lost to the eventual champion.
Carnell moved on and served as an assistant in the Jr. Lancers program for one year and then sat down and talked with Adams about his philosophy before taking on the head job.
"For two and a half hours, we talked basketball," Carnell said. "He was comfortable with me and me with him. He was open to new ideas. We had a strong foundation here and I had some other ideas to make it stronger."
Carnell kept his hand in coaching as an assistant, but running the program took up most of his time.
After running almost every area his first year so he had an idea of what went on with the different functions, Carnell was able to delegate responsibilities for the program's concessions and tournaments. He still made the final decisions on uniforms and spirit wear, however.
Carnell had two main goals.
"Our No. 1 goal was to get these kids ready for high school basketball at the ninth-grade level," he said. "Our second goal was to connect with the community, tying in our junior program with the high school program."
Last year, Carnell organized a "Lancer Madness" rally where players, siblings and parents from fourth grade through 12th grade came out - girls as well as boys.
"It was a great way to get the community involved; to get together to get the season started," he said. "We had basketball contests. The Jr. Lancer cheerleaders made up of girls from fourth through eighth grades were there. They come to our games."
The high school players work at the Jr. Lancer basketball camps now, so the kids have the opportunity to meet the players who will be on the varsity for the next four years.
"This helps encourages kids to go to varsity games," Carnell said. "They know who the varsity players are, then those players come back and coach them at the camps. It's great."
The Jr. Lancers also provide ball boys at varsity games and they bus to some away games.
"They get to know the players and vice versa. It's pretty neat," Carnell said.
The Jr. Lancers play over 50 games and Carnell has added more teams at the different levels in order to give more players the opportunity to play, which was the major feedback Carnell discovered.
"Kids were not developing sitting on the bench," he said. "We have 16 kids in fourth grade, 17 in fifth grade, 18 in sixth grade," he said. "They practice together, but they split up for games.
"Now there is more skills development at different paces, more playing time and we get to keep more kids. We hope to have two teams at every level in a few years."
Carnell has also brought college kids (former Lancers Aaron Hurley and Donne Robbins, along with Joey D'Amato) to coach at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels.
Carnell is happy with the way the program is developing, but he is always looking for ways to make it better.
THE CARNELL FILE
MARRIED: Janelle, 17 years
CHILDREN: Dawson, 11, sixth grader at Wisconsin Hills; Justin, 8, third grader at Hillside
EDUCATION: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Finance Major; Brookfield East High School, 1986
BUSINESS: Carnell Insurance Agency
HOBBIES: Youth basketball, running, fishing, biking
MOVIES: Dramas, action films, Goodfellas
TELEVISION: Crime, Law & Order series, Without a Trace
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