Arizona Basketball

Lute Olson Fantasy Camp allows fans, players to relive past glory of Arizona’s program

Those who have the most appreciation for when the Arizona Wildcats won the national title in 1997 are now close to 30 something or older because they watched it live either in person or on TV.

People in their 40’s or older appreciate most — or remember the most — when the Wildcats earned their first Final Four trip in 1988.

Wildcat fans dating back to when Olson arrived in Tucson in 1983 know of a player such as Pete Williams, who may not be a household name now but was a significant contributor to Arizona’s ascension to college hoop’s elite.

Fans from back then likely dream of going back in time and being in the presence of Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson and Arizona’s legendary players from his era, such as Williams, Mike Bibby and Reggie Geary, to name a few.

Those dreams are about to come true because of the work of Tucson sports mogul Mike Feder and longtime sports reporter Steve Rivera.

The inaugural Lute Olson Fantasy Camp is set to take place Sept. 7-10 in Tucson with a long list of enticing features for the older generation of Wildcat basketball fanatics.

The admission fee of $3,000 at first glance might seem pricey but it really is worth the cost considering the long list of accommodations and what other college basketball fantasy camps charge.

“It’s not inexpensive. It’s not hanging out at the gym,” said Feder, who for many years served as a minor-league baseball general manager in Tucson in addition to countless other community projects.

“For this fantasy camp to be an exclusive and first-class event, there has to be a cost.”

A non-refundable deposit of $500 must be made to secure a spot. Feder said the goal is to attract at least 30 participants for the first year of which he hopes to be an annual event.

Williams, Bibby and Geary are among the former Wildcat standouts who have committed to serve as camp instructors along with Corey Williams and Matt Muehlebach. Feder said the list of former players joining the camp should continue to grow. Of course, the biggest draw, Olson, will be there.

For more information about the Lute Olson Fantasy Camp contact Mike Feder at feder1616@yahoo.com or Steve Rivera at steve.rivera95@gmail.com.

The features of the camp included in the entry fee:

— Three nights of accommodations at the plush Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa. If a person does not need the resort accommodation, the fee is $2,500 for the camp.
— All meals will be provided, including a private dinner reception at an exclusive location
— Roundtrip pickup from airport provided as well as all local transportation to all activities (transportation to and from Tucson is not included)
— Daily basketball instruction and team competition at the Sporting Chance Center
— Personalized Arizona basketball uniform for practice
— Lute Olson and instructors signed basketball
— Lute Olson autographed book – 100 Things Arizona Fans Need to Know and Do Before They Die (of which Rivera and Anthony Gimino — both of AllSportsTucson.com — are the authors).
— Official team photo, commemorative camp DVD, and Swag Bag from Nike
— Licensed training staff
— Tickets to the Arizona-Houston football game at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 9.

Longtime Tucson sports mogul Mike Feder taking in his Chicago Cubs in the World Series last year (Feder family photo)

“Lute’s name means a lot to all of this,” said Feder, who is also a marketing liaison with Mexican Baseball Fiesta and the El Tour de Tucson. “Steve has a relationship with Lute (as the longtime beat reporter for the Tucson Citizen) and I obviously have known Lute over the years.

“With us not seen anything like this done before, we thought it would be worth trying.”

Feder said he researched other fantasy camps, such as Mike Krzyzewski’s K Academy at Duke and Bill Self’s Fantasy Basketball Procamp at Kansas, to get a better understanding of what goes into a successful venture such as this.

The fee to take part in the K Academy is $10,000 and participants must be at least 35 years old. A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 must be made.

Self’s Fantasy Basketball Procamp has three different packages starting at $4,995 and going up to $6,995. Miles Simon served as one of the camp’s coaches this year for Self. The camp also has an age requirement of 35 years old or older.

Feder said presently no age requirement exists for the Olson fantasy camp although he mentioned that “it is definitely not a kid’s camp … you look at a guy like me. I’m 65 and I still play basketball. We expect people like that to take part in this.”

You may ask: What if a participant does not want to play basketball but only wants to soak in the instruction and hear stories of Olson’s glory days as Arizona’s coach from the coach himself and his former players?

“It’s something we’re looking at,” Feder said. “If they want to pay to hang out and be part of it, it’s something we can’t turn down.”

Feder stressed that the event will be a first-class operation similar to the more established functions with Krzyzewski and Self.

“There will be anything from where Lute and the instructors will have a chalk talk to when they talk about the national championship,” Feder said. “We will let the participants ask questions they (Olson and the former players) probably have never heard.

“We want it to be an experience the participants will remember for the rest of their life. The only way you can do that is if you don’t shortcut it.”

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