The Black Hat

The Black Hat award was established in the early 1990s at the J Robinson Intensive Wrestling Camp in Oregon as a special recognition for the most deserving athlete in each group. The idea originated from Army Ranger School in which a “Distinguished Honor Graduate” is chosen from each Ranger class. We select one athlete from each group to be an Honor Graduate—what we call a Black Hat winner.

We evaluate the athletes based on leadership within their basketball and running group, support of other athletes during camp, and embodiment of the characteristics of the J7—Discipline, Dedication, Sacrifice, Hard Work, Responsibility, Accountability, and Service. 

The Black Hat winner receives a Q&A to fill out at the end of camp. Read below to learn more about Nick Paumen, the Black Hat winner from the inaugural Intensive Basketball Camp.


black hat smallerNick Paumen
Maple Lake High School
Maple Lake, Minnesota

Q: What was your favorite part of camp and why did you choose to come here?

A: My favorite part of the camp was the hard practice. I chose to come here because I wanted to excel at basketball.

Q: Who is a role model you look up to and why?

A: I look up to my dad because he taught me basketball, and shared with me his love for the game.

Q: What/who is your inspiration to play basketball and why?

A: My dad was very good at basketball in high school and played basketball at a junior college until he came home to go to work for my grandpa. He still plays on one, sometimes two men's leagues. I want to push myself to live up to him.

Q: What is the most valuable thing you learned at camp?

A: How to push myself harder than I thought possible.

Q: What is the most important quality that a successful basketball player must have?

A: Perseverance to push not only yourself, but your teammates as well, through difficult times.

Q: To improve as a person I need to?

A: Self motivate and visualize greatness.

Q: What was the hardest thing about camp?

A: Conditioning and pushing not just myself but others to give 100%.

Q: What advice would you give a future camper?

A: Expect a lot of running. Pay attention to detail and push your teammates.

Q: What makes basketball different from other sports/activities you participate in?

A: It's not just running back and forth across the court. There's so much more jumping, stopping and going. Every game is different. Everyone has to play their part on the team.  Everyone has to come to the game ready to participate 100% and work together for a win. That could sound like any other sport, but this sport has my heart. It's something I share with my dad.

Q: Who was your favorite coach at camp and why?

A: They were all good, but Coach T was my favorite because I thought he pushed me more than the other coaches did.

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