On March 3rd, the National Basketball Association held the very first Jr. NBA clinic on Fort Bragg at the Tolson Youth Activities Center. Youth from seven to 14 years of age were able to practice drills and get some basketball tips from Tolson Youth center staff, volunteers, NBA and Women’s NBA players.
The NBA and military partnered up to bring a program called Jr. NBA to the installation. The Army Child Youth Services selected two Installations to kick off a year-round development of basketball and leadership skills for military youth. Fort Bragg was one of the two chosen.
This program also consists of positive coaching for both parents and volunteer coaches. This program is a way to bring awareness to Fort Bragg’s needs for developmental programs that ensure all youth have equal playing time and promote skill development both on and off the court.
Also stressed was the ability to teach youth important lifelong values that promote leadership and teamwork when delivered through positive coaching and programs that stress character development.
The event started with basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan’s brother, James R. Jordan. Jordan serves as Executive Vice President of Operations for Hornets Sports and Entertainment and is veteran of the U. S. Army.
“I always believe in giving back, I was in the military for 31 years. I am just here to give support, this is a great program and I already see the kids are having fun. I also wanted to push the parents to get more involved in any sport that their child might play. The parent, the coaches and the player have to be on the same page. They have to support each other in order for a team to become successful,” stated Jordan.
Children were divided up by ages and distributed across the gym to engage in different basketball drills. Each child was able to participate in shooting, dribbling, passing, footwork, defensive and fun drills for one hour. Among the staff helping, NBA and WNBA basketball players showed the youth different drills and gave them advice about the basketball in general.
WNBA player Ivory Latta and former player Michelle Van Gorp also attended, giving the youth excellent tips on how to become better players.
Former NBA player Cherokee Parks, who is well known for playing at Duke University, also showed off his dunking skills and gave the children useful tips as well.
After graduating college, he played for teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and many other teams. Parks said he was happy to volunteer to come to this event and help the other players.
“As soon as I heard about this event, I threw my arm up in the air and told them I wanted to come. Just to see all these kids and smiling faces makes it well worth it. This is a great program and I hope they continue to do this every year. Meeting all these wonderful kids and showing them different drills, is priceless to me” stated Parks
While children engaged in drills in the gym, parents were able to attend two different workshops. The parent and coach workshops were designed to give tips and answer any questions individuals might have when involved in any type of sport.
Mission Barbeque provided lunch, and the event ended with Hoops for Troops basketball game. For more information about this event or to sign youth up for basketball visit bragg.armymwr.com or call 396-9123.