Local athletes got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the best last week, as NBA player Tobias Harris hosted a free basketball and life skills workshop at the “Yes We Can” Community Center.
This was the second year Harris held the camp at the “Yes We Can” Community Center and it comes just a few months after he spoke to Westbury High School student-athletes about achieving their goals. The Detroit Pistons forward said seeing how much the kids enjoyed last year’s camp, as well as the accommodating nature of the Town of North Hempstead, made him want to bring it back this year.
“Last year we saw huge growth from the kids from Monday to Friday, that stuck with me and my family. And coming back out here [throughout the year], we see a lot of the kids and they give us a lot of love, so that goes a long way,” Harris said. “The Town of North Hempstead always does a great job of inviting us in and told us we made a great impact, so we thought it was a great idea to come back.”
This year’s workshop drew 100 athletes, both new and returning, from Westbury and surrounding areas. Under the tutelage of Harris and experienced basketball players, the athletes engaged in drills to improve their skills and learn more about the game. Darius Coleman traveled from Bellerose, Queens, for the clinic, saying playing with the NBA star was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“The drills have made it fun to be here and I’m getting better at the same time,” Coleman said. “Playing with Tobias is great. It’s an experience no one would ever have.”
The weeklong camp not only emphasized basketball skills, but life skills as well. The week’s motto was positivity and the importance of a positive attitude was instilled in the attendees. Middle and high school athletes attended career workshops where they heard from police officers, chefs and coaches about their professions, as well as participated in yoga classes and learned more about making good choices.
“It’s not just a basketball camp, it’s a camp to help these young men and women be successful leaders in the world,” Harris said. “We look at the whole aspect on how we can help these young children be successful.”
Noah Bolling, a varsity basketball player at Westbury High School, said the clinic taught him more than just how to improve his skills on the court.
“It’s a place where you can really learn about life skills and how to become a good person. It teaches you how to react to the world in a positive way,” said Bolling.
This was Bolling’s second year attending the workshop and he said the highlight was learning life lessons from Harris.
“The best part was getting to know Tobias and having him speak to the youth about how life really is and him teaching us about real life, and how it takes times and patience and you have to have a good mindset,” Bolling said.
Harris, an Islip native, said he hopes to continue working with the Westbury community to mentor local students.
“The sky’s the limit,” Harris said. “We want to impact as many people as we can in the best way possible. We want to see these young people grow into what they need to be. We are always looking to do more and help out.”
On Thursday, Aug. 25, Harris will be holding a scholarship information workshop for parents of athletes at the “Yes We Can” Community Center. For more information call 631-456-6606.