Learning From The Best

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Young basketball players learn from Pistons star Tobias Harris

The sound of squeaking shoes and dribbling basketballs echoed through the “Yes We Can” Community Center last week, as for the third year in a row, NBA player Tobias Harris brought his life skills workshop to New Cassel.

More than 150 young basketball players signed up for the free weeklong camp, where they engaged in drills to build their shooting, ball handling and defensive skills. But more than just helping them become better ball players, the clinic also taught them important life skills, such as proper nutrition, career options, yoga and more.

Torrel Harris, father of Tobias Harris, mentors camp attendees.

“I like how hard he’s working us and the different things we’re doing to help us get better in the game,” said Jordan Redd from Westbury. “He teaches us how to work as a team and how not to quit.”

Harris has become a familiar face in the area. The Detroit Pistons forward has run the summer program out of the “Yes We Can” Center for three years, and in the past, he’s also spoken to Westbury High School athletes and mentored the high school basketball team.

“It’s the kids,” the Islip native said on why he is so invested in the community. “They bring the inspiration and passion, and I’m here to help motivate them and make sure they’re on the right path.”

Supervisor Judi Bosworth noted that North Hempstead was fortunate to house the workshop, which drew participants from Nassau County and beyond.

Tobias Harris (at right) works with campers on their basketball skills.

“Having met with Mr. Harris several times, his dedication to both his career and his program are obvious. He is a wonderful role model for our young people. His workshop touches on so many important life skills, in addition to teaching basketball,” said Bosworth. “The participants come away understanding the need to work hard, get a good education and always have a plan B for their career path. The program instills a sense of confidence and purpose in all who attend.”

Campers received T-shirts and backpacks, as well as free lunches every day. This year’s camp motto was “giving back” and participants were encouraged to displays ways in which they could help others in need. Campers were encouraged to donate a pair of slightly worn sneakers or shoes to nonprofit Heeling Soles. At the end of the week, campers were surprised with their own special donation: Harris gifted each camper with a pair of sneakers.

“I want them to learn to give. Not just me giving to them, but them to younger generations,” said Harris. “Take what you learned here and go forward.”

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