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AIM HIGH ALUMNI

SUCCESS STORIES

Since 1971, Gerald Ernst's Aim High system and his coaching staff has been providing players like yourself with an opportunity to become your best!   Our focus is on player development and includes core fundamentals daily.

Our model of skill development, team development, and mental/physical conditioning is tried and true and has seen unparalleled success at all levels of the game.  The truest testament to the AIM HIGH system is how many former players turned coaches are now using the very same system for their high school, college, and pro teams...and more than that, the success of the AIM HIGH ALUMNI speaks for itself...read more success stories below...

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Success Story

A 4-time All League, All State High School basketball player for Coach Ernst.  He went on to play at Lake Superior State University, and then in the PBA.  To this day he is known as the Michael Jordan of the Philippines  -he is

Eric "Major Pain" Menk.

 

In his recently published book, Eric talks about his first encounter with the Aim High system:

"Coach Ernst ran a summer basketball camp in Charlotte as soon as school let out. This was going to be different than most camps that are usually four or five days long. This camp was ten days, with a weekend break after five. Often camps will split up sessions with one age group in the morning and one age group in the afternoon. At Ernst’s camp, everyone was going to be there the whole day. Gym doors opened at 7:30 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m. The name of Ernst’s was camp: Aim High. Coach Ernst stressed the importance of setting high goals, writing them down in a place we could read them every day, and then working relentlessly to achieve them. When we accomplished those goals, set new ones. The bigger the target, the better. This mindset was the theme of the camp, and it was stressed every day.

There was an impressive turnout for Coach Ernst’s first Aim High Basketball Camp. It seemed like every kid in town wanted to be a basketball player. In the mornings, the camp split into groups by age and went through a mini basketball practice. Coach Ernst took the varsity players at the main hoop at one end of the gym. I heard his voice booming in the dome as he instructed his players. I could feel the intensity coming from that side of the gym as his players went diving after loose balls. Even though we were busy with our group session, it was tough not to watch the varsity athletes. I had never seen anybody work so hard at the game of basketball.

Every day there were two thirty-minute lectures and Coach Ernst did most of them. Sometimes, the lectures would be on the technical parts of the game, such as shooting, individual defense, team defense, rebounding, the fast break, etc. Other times, Ernst would talk about other aspects of the game like: work ethic, playing to win or mental toughness. This was my favorite part of camp. Other kids might be fooling around or not paying attention, but not me. This was a great time to learn about the game and get a better understanding on what Coach Ernst valued from his players. He was a great storyteller and spoke with such confidence and charisma, that he had no problem keeping the camps attention.

During these lectures, Coach Ernst had the older varsity kids get up to demonstrate a drill. This turned into an inside look at their practice. It would get intense as his players were not afraid to mix it up in front of the whole camp. He stressed work ethic, defense, sacrifice, toughness, and playing unselfishly. Coach Ernst made it known he starts his best defender and best rebounder on his team no matter what. He loved guys who rebounded, took charges and ran the court hard. I learned the last thing he told all of his teams before they took the court was one simple phrase, Play Hard, Play Smart and Play Together!

This camp was an inside look at how Coach Ernst got his teams to play the way they did. I viewed him very much like a high school version of Bobby Knight, the legendary coach of the Indiana Hoosiers at the time. Coach Ernst would, in fact, have Bobby Knight tapes playing in the video room at camp all of the time. Watching these videos, I learned that Coach Ernst ran many of the same drills Knight ran at his Indiana practices. Aim High was a very organized camp with each camper getting a written player evaluation, game stats were recorded and given to each player, there were one-on-one and three-on-three competitions, the Thursday ice cream blast, and All-Star games. It was a great way to start the summer.

At Aim High, everybody in town wanted to know what Coach Ernst’s secret was. How was he able to turn our program around in just one year? When he first came to Charlotte and watched the team, he noticed the players were just playing to play. He said the first thing and most important thing was to teach us how to play to win. There is a big difference between playing just to play and playing to win. Winning came from a level of work ethic, good habits and mindset. Coach Ernst stressed there was a level of work we had to put in to be good, to win. He loved quoting the famous coaches, Vince Lombardi (Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing) and Bobby Knight (Mental is to physical as 4 is to 1), about winning.

At Aim High, Coach Ernst gave a two-page workout to each camper, with the headline, So You Want to be All-State? Players had to follow the plan daily if they wanted to be an All-State basketball player. As a young kid, this workout seemed impossible. That was the point. To be good or to be a winner, we had to work harder than we thought we could. Coach would often ask his players if they were shooting 500 jump shots a day. Often the answer would be no and he would respond by telling them not to complain when they missed a shot then. This was the type of discipline and work ethic he demanded from his players. He would be constantly reminding us that if we thought we were working hard, that there was another kid out there from Flint or Detroit who was working harder than we were. One of his famous quotes he loved to say was, “You’re either getting better or your getting worse!”

From his first year at Charlotte, Coach Ernst focused on Okemos Chieftains, a team from the east side of Lansing, a wealthier suburb than Charlotte. Their school systems have bigger budgets, nicer facilities and are overall a more affluent and esteemed community compared to Charlotte, which is a modest, blue-collar farm town. Eaton Rapids is our school’s main rival because the towns are adjacent, but Coach Ernst targeted Okemos as our main rival because they usually dominated the Capital Circuit in most sports, including basketball. Even though Charlotte had success against most teams in Ernst’s first year, Okemos had clobbered us twice. So that summer at Aim High, Coach made it very clear that beating Okemos was a priority.

Stan Stoltz, an excellent tactician who had his teams playing a smart, defensive style of basketball, coached the Chieftains. He led Okemos to the Class B state titles in ’81 and ’82. In 1984, Stoltz led the Chieftains to the B semi-finals. Okemos was one of the premiere Class B teams in the state during the late ’70s to mid-80s, before they eventually moved to Class A. Okemos held the high scoring Orioles in the ’50s in their two meetings during the ’85 season. Okemos beat Charlotte 66–56, in a game where they held high scoring guard, Steve Ernst to nine points. In their second meeting, it got worse for Charlotte as they fell 65–52 to the Chieftains. Beating Okemos was no small task. From 1979 to ’85 Okemos had beaten Charlotte sixteen straight times by an average margin of twenty-five points. But, that’s how Coach Ernst was. He wasn’t afraid to Aim High and to pick a fight with the toughest team on the block. Coach Ernst knew we had to overcome that challenge if we were to reach our potential.

Through his camp, a couple of things became very clear to me about Coach Ernst. First: he hated losing. He would say, “Something should die inside of you every time you lose”. Coach Ernst loved to win, but he hated to lose even more. He wanted his players to think that way and be as competitive as possible. Second: playing for Coach Ernst was going to be the hardest thing I ever attempted. He talked about how difficult winning was. The commitment and work ethic required to be successful was far beyond anything we had done before. He would often say, “All I want is the best you’ve got”. If I wanted to play for Coach Ernst, he was going to test me physically, but even more, he was going to push me mentally.

Aim High was an excellent environment if I wanted to get serious about basketball. I had just watched games up until that point in my life. Aim High was my first look at the hard work required to win on game day. Before then, I had thought of basketball as a fun game because it felt good to score. After Coach Ernst’s first camp, I understood that basketball would require hard work, discipline, sacrifice, and dedication. After those things were established, the sport could be fun again.

Success Story

Jason Bossard attended the Aim High basketball camp in the summer of 1989.  He arrived with a chip on his shoulder from having spent his last high school season barely averaging double-digits and receiving zero attention from college coaches.

It was at the Aim High camp that he made the decision to commit to a process that would be unlike anything he had done before.  He would finish that week of camp as an Aim High All Star and continue training 5-6 hours a day with Coach Steve Ernst for the remainder of the summer.  His daily grind included well over 1000 shots per day off the dribble, 10,000 dribbles per day, sprints to improve his quickness, an attitude of goal setting, and a relentless refusal to let anything or anyone come in the way of his dream to play college ball.

Jason also made the commitment to transfer from his high school to play for Coach Gerald Ernst.

Now participating in the Aim High system for his senior year of high school he went on to average 30ppg, 14rpg, 5stl, 5ast.  He was a first team All State player and he received college offers to play at Loyola Marymount, University of Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, Florida State, Texas Tech.....to make it easier, just about EVERY college in the country!

Jason accepted a full-ride offer to play basketball at the University of Michigan, his dream school, where he played with the Fab 5 and became team captain his senior year.

He participated well into March Madness every year!

After college, Jason took an offer with Goldman Sachs where he became the youngest ever on wall street to have his tie cut!

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Outstanding Alumni

The following list is by no way all encompassing, but merely a start to the Aim High Hall of Fame.

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