Former Harlem Globetrotters score big with Robins youth, while promoting fitness

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78 ABW/PA
"H-U-S-T-L-E, hustle, hustle, hustle down that court."

The words might be simply parts of a cheer, but the cheer was a state of mind for 75 boys and girls as they took to the youth center basketball court this week.

The scene was part of the Shoot for the Stars Basketball Camp, where youth ages 7 to 14 had the opportunity to learn some fundamental basketball skills from a pair of former Harlem Globetrotters and several former professional basketball players.

The Michael Douglas Youth Foundation developed the Shoot for the Stars Youth Basketball Program to teach youth to shoot down discouragement, rebound from poor self-esteem, handle peer pressure and keep family values above the rim, according to its Web site.

The group of 75 could be found running up and down the court throughout each morning practicing their passing, dribbling and shooting skills. When they weren't running the courts the group was working on ball control.

"We get to shoot some hoops and they teach us how to do some tricks like how to air dribble," said Landon Byrd, 8.

Along with teaching valuable life lessons the camp also focuses on the importance of good physical fitness and the fundamentals of the game of choice for Mr. Douglas is basketball. Mr. Douglas said as the world has begun to focus more attention on the issue of obesity in children and youth, the camp has focused more on finding a fun way for them to stay fit.

"We want to help their bodies for life," Mr. Douglas said.

He said it is important for children and youth to find an activity that will help them stay physically fit while having fun.

However, physical fitness and basketball skills aren't the only lessons learned during the camp; members are also encouraged to practice their math skills in a game called the "Battle of the Ball."

For many the highlight of the camp was learning about basketball from those who once played the sport on the professional level. Though many of the young basketball enthusiasts agreed their favorite instructor was former Globetrotter Larry "Shorty" Coleman.

"I love to see the smiles on the kids face as well as teaching them about basketball," Mr. Coleman said.

Jessie Hughes,13, was one of the many aspiring players who relished the opportunity to learn from Mr. Coleman, who could always be found rolling humor and enthusiasm into his court-side tips.

"He's funny and he likes to play around," Jessie said.

However, participants agreed all of the camp instructors were great at explaining how to master the fundamental skills required for the game.

"They are nice and if you are doing it wrong they help you with it," said Ansley Lamb, 14.

During the camp, participants had the opportunity to participate in all sorts of drills and exercises to prepare them to shoot some hoops. The group started each day by stretching out and then started drills which focused on ball-handling, shooting, passing, dribbling, and agility.

"The best part about this camp is being able to free shoot for a while," said Malcolm Melvin, 8. He said he also liked learning how to stretch and other basketball basics.

During the drills, Mr. Douglas repeated words of wisdom to help the aspiring basketball players perfect the drills and prepare to play the game.

Though there were tons of drills to choose from for many of the children and youth, the suicides, a drill where athletes run from one side of the court to the other, were a crowd favorite.

"My favorite is doing the suicides," said Aubree Melvin, 11.

She said the best skills she picked up during the basketball camp were dribbling and the ability to sink a few shots.