The camp, directed by St. John’s University Men’s Basketball Coach Norm Roberts, began its second five-day basketball session last week, and finishes with a third session this week. Roberts is assisted by the area’s top high school coaches, who along with St. John’s coaching staff and players, spread their knowledge and love of basketball to the campers.
Around 200 kids, from ages 7-18, showed up at the daylong instructional camp for the joint purpose of improving their skills and to have fun with a basketball.
Emilio, a 16 year-old point guard from St. Johns Prep in Queens, reasoned his stay at the camp by stating, “I wanted to work on my defense. I wanted to get better”.
The day begins with attendance in the Taffner Field House gym, where most of the basketball related activities take place. However, there are also hoops outside to accommodate the large number of kids at the camp.
Once the attendance was taken, the kids are then divided among their age levels, or in the camp’s case, basketball leagues. The NBA (ages 14-17), the Big East (ages 10-13), and the ACC (ages 7-9) were sorted to create a fair playing field.
The leagues then play the first of their two basketball games, following four ten-minute periods. Teams are generally composed of seven to eight players; follow substitution patterns every five minutes.
Malik, a 12 year-old from the United Nations International School in Jamaica, Queens, claimed “The games are my favorite part of the day”.
Malik is not alone. To many of the players, the games are most exciting event of the day, since they are the most body-wrecking and stimulating. This of course is just practice for Friday, which features the playoffs.
After the games, the players are then pulled away to eat lunch or left to continue on with their basketball exercises depending on their league.
Those continuing with the activities participate in the daily free throw shooting contest. In this drill, coaches demonstrate the importance of a free throw with a live or miss process.
You make it in, and you’re safe, miss and you’re out. The last player left standing qualifies for Friday’s finale, where they face off against the winners from the other leagues.
One-on-One drills are used in the camp to highlight a player’s singular skills. The first player to score a basket wins; like the free throw contest, players continue to face the other victors, and then head towards the Friday finale, for the One on One Crown.
Knock Out, a popular basketball game, is also employed to show the significance of timely hooping. Players stand in a straight line and must make their shots in order to stay in the game. If a player misses their shot, he must score before the opposing player behind does. If not, they’re out!
After the drills, the leagues play their final game to culminate an eventful day.
And at the week’s end, awards are given out to the standouts. Awards range from MVP, Mr. Hustle, Most Improved, and Sportsmanship.
The man handing out these awards is a Queens’s product, Coach Roberts, who completed his fifth year of running the camp this summer.
“There’s always been camp wherever I’ve been, I thought the camp would be a good for the community”, said Roberts “There’s always a need for these camps, parents are off working all day, and this can give them some help”.
That’s not all he’s doing, he further added, “I haven’t raised the prices of the camp in two years, it’s a recession and it’s hard on the families”.
One of the younger campers affected, Nick, 10, aspires to play basketball with his favorite player, Cleveland Cavalier Forward Lebron James one day. The camp might be the perfect place to start.
Although some of these children might not become basketball stars, there are a few things Roberts wants to instill in the kids before Friday’s finish.
“Learn Basketball’s Fundamentals, and teamwork, is what we want the kids to learn” explained Roberts.
A twelve year old Chicago Bulls fan Makai, claimed “I love basketball”.
Hearing this, it’s safe to say the camp’s had an impact, delivering another successful year.