By Steph Stanislao
The Fargo Basketball Academy, which was started by former NDSU Basketball great Tom Wilberscheid, has been a fun and helpful place for youth in the Fargo-Moorhead area to learn the fundamentals of basketball for years. Over 3,000 kids have come through its doors and have left with better skills as well as smiles on their faces. Bison Illustrated caught up with Wilberscheid and his assistant, former NDSU Basketball player Mike Nelson, to see what makes their program work.
With over 25 years of experience with the sport of basketball, Tom Wilberscheid, Fargo Basketball Academy Director, has mastered the art of teaching youth the game. Wilberscheid played basketball for NDSU from 1980-1983 and was a stand out for the Bison during his time on the court. Among being a member of the NDSU Men’s Basketball Team, Wilberscheid worked with Bison Buddies, was a student assistant coach and was inducted into the North Dakota Amateur Basketball Hall of Fame.
Wilberscheid explained how playing for the Bison has influenced the way that he teaches, “I guess for me some of the drills I took, the fact that the intensity at which you work out at determines really how well you’re going to play and how you’re going to do when it comes to performing in game situations.”
It is clear that Wilberscheid has the patience and passion for teaching kids how to perfect the fundamentals of basketball just from how he explained his teaching philosophy, “I look at what we do here at the Basketball Academy not so much as coaching the kids, because a lot of the kids we’re working with are young. We’re really teaching them. That’s why we use the word academy over anything else. For the most part when the kids are here, especially the younger kids, it’s learning how to dribble with your head up, it’s learning how to change direction, it’s learning how to pass-fake, how to shot-fake, how to use their pivot foot, how to create a better passing angle, creating space, it’s learning how to keep the ball up high when they get the rebound underneath the basket, it’s learning how to finish at the basket with their away hand, it’s shooting lay-ups properly.”
Mike Nelson joined the Fargo Basketball Academy after playing for the Bison Men’s Basketball team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce and overseas for teams in Switzerland and Austria. Nelson had over 1,000 career points for the Bison, made 57 straight starts and was part of the Summit League Championship team during the 2008- 2009 season.
Having played for both Coach Miles and Coach Phillips at NDSU, Nelson explained how his experience as a Bison has impacted the way that he coaches. ”Well I basically took a lot of the technique type stuff, because you know here it’s not really coaching teams. It’s more teaching fundamentals, teaching skill development…that kind of thing. What I took is basically the knowledge of different kinds of drills, the proper techniques to use to pass down to kids that come to the academy.” As for working at the Fargo Basketball Academy, Nelson enjoys being able to share what he loves. “I get to work with kids who are four and five years old up to college kids. I just like being around people and I love the game of basketball. It’s almost like I’m a gym teacher (laughs), but I get to do basketball all the time. I enjoy the game, love being around it and I love passing down my knowledge to kids. I like giving back to the community too.”
Find more information on Tom and Mike at the Fargo Basketball Academy by going to www.fargobasketball.com or check it their space at 5409 53 Ave. S, Fargo.