“I wish they could do it all day,” Shaw Principal Gina Leonard said, alluding to the D-League players limited availability. “I just wish more of our kids could have taken advantage of it. The more exposure we can get for the kids to positive experiences, the better. This is awesome. It’s great for our P.E. teachers too. They’re learning new things they can try out in their classes.”
Seven different NBA D-League players took time out of their schedules Tuesday to work with the Shaw students. Jeff Foote, Lance Hurdle and James Brown, of the Springfield Armour, Mustapha Farrakhan, Adrian Thomas and Juan Pattillo, of the Bakersfield Jam, and Elijah Milsap of the Los Angeles D-Fenders comprised that group. That players are in all in the Truckee Meadows this week, taking part in the annual NBA D-League Showcase, which is being hosted by the league’s Reno Bighorns.
“Back when I was in school, people would come to our school like this and it was fun,” Farrakhan said. “I like the opportunity to work with kids. I really enjoy my time when I get to help out.”
The 150-plus students split into even groups and worked out with the players, rotating to different stations. They worked on everything from ball handling and shooting to various agilities. Many of the students received a free NBA FIT T-shirt for taking part. FIT is a comprehensive health and wellness program promoted by the NBA and its Developmental League as well as the WNBA. It encourages physical activity and healthy living for children and families through clinics like the one at Shaw in addition to other promotional opportunities.
Allison Beck is an account executive and the Community Relations Manager for the Reno Bighorns. She was in attendance at Shaw Tuesday, helping the event go off without a hitch.
“One of the main missions of the D-League and FIT is to talk to kids about being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle,” Beck said. “We want to teach the kids about basketball but we also want to teach them being healthy is fun too. As a D-League team, one of the Bighorns’ goals is to get out in the community and work with the kids. Having the showcase here this week is awesome. We want the kids to have fun and hopefully they come out to a game.”
Donnie Arey is NBA’s Lead Clinician. He ran Tuesday’s activities, directing players and students and talking to them about staying active.
“I’ve been lucky enough to do these all over the world,” Arey said. “I get to go to all kinds of great places and it’s here today. Spending time with the kids is a lot of fun and the players do an awesome job. We want to teach the students some fundamentals of the game. If they can get excited about what we do in this little bit of time then that’s a good thing.”
The event seemed to be an overwhelming hit with the Shaw students lucky enough to participate.
“I liked the shooting,” said Shaw 8th grader Allie Lepori. “ It was fun that they got to come out to our school.”
Shaw P.E. teacher John Vial could tell the event was a success just by watching his students.
“This is a great change-up,” Vial said. “These kids see me everyday. I could see their eyes light up today. The only drawback is they (D-League players) couldn’t be here all day for all our kids.”
There are 14 middle schools in the Washoe County School District, but only Shaw and Billinghurst, in northwest Reno, were selected to host D-League clinics for students Tuesday.