Vandahl, Calkins return from AAU team

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— The summer season left Michael Vandahl and Aaron Calkins with little question about the basketball talent throughout the country.

"There were some pretty dang good teams," said Calkins, who along with Vandahl played on the 17's White Colorado Chaos Amateur Athletic Union team that just returned from elite tournaments in Texas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. "They were probably the most athletic teams by far. They could all jump out of the gym."

In Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Vandahl and Calkins' team performed admirably among some of the best collection of summer AAU teams in the country.

At the Reebok Summer Championships in Las Vegas, the 17's White team finished 4-2 and advanced to the round of 16 in the tournament.

Then, at the Double Pump Best of Summer in Los Angeles, the team finished 2-2.

"It was a lot of fun," Calkins said. "We had to step up our game more than we usually do."

The Los Angeles tournament wrapped up a busy summer for Calkins and Vandahl, who attend Steamboat Springs High School. The two played in nine tournaments with the Chaos as well as working with the Steamboat team at several camps and in open gyms.

"I'm proud of them," said Steamboat coach Kelly Meek, who watched his star duo play in Las Vegas. "That took a lot of time and effort. It says a lot about them and their families commitment."

Meek said the experience with the Chaos helped the two senior guards see what type of competition is out there.

He said Vandahl was able to run offenses against guards who pressured the ball and were extremely quick, while Calkins was able to see athletes that are tough to find in Colorado.

"They played against a lot of real good athleticism," Meek said. "They saw athleticism and quickness on a basis they don't normally see."

With the summer season done, Vandahl and Calkins now plan on continuing to work out and prepare for the upcoming season.

While both had fun with the summer tournaments and the experience they gained, Calkins said it will be refreshing to get back to playing with his teammates in Steamboat.

"I'm really excited for this season," Calkins said, adding his goals for the upcoming season are to go undefeated in the Western Slope League and bring home a state championship. "Most kids on the team this year I've been playing with and been friends with since elementary school."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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