Laying flat on the basketball court in spaced apart rows, about 30 children formed straight lines with their bodies, looking face down. Then, they stretched out their arms, and put their palms on the floor, shoulder width apart and pushed their bodies up into an upright position. The children held the position and carefully lowered their bodies up and down, while they bent their arms. Each of them applied light pressure on their cores, by contracting their abs as they inhaled and exhaled.
The pushups were just one of many exercises children took part in at the annual Lynbrook Future Stars summer basketball camp, which ran from July 29 to Aug. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon at Greis Park for children and teens age 5 to 15.
After the pushups, the campers moved on to holding planks, jumping jacks, stretching their arms and legs and ground balls; all in preparation for a day of camp.
“The purpose of my camp is not just to teach children the game of basketball, but we teach the kids life lessons by instilling in them the importance of hard work, purpose and dedication,” said Kevin McMahon, director of Lynbrook Future Stars. “The motto that I teach the kids is, ‘dream, believe, achieve,’ because it reminds the kids that if you put in hard work, you can achieve anything.”
After they are warmed up, the children, led by three counselors, began ball-handling stations — where they formed about six lines in front of the basketball hoops to practice shooting the ball close to the hoop. Then, the children were split into different teams for competitive drills.
Teaching campers to have a competitive advantage through drills is important to the counselors at the camp, in order to keep basketball programs in Lynbrook schools running, they said.
“We try to match the kids based on skill level for competitive drills, but sometimes we let the younger kids verse the older kids, so that the younger kids can improve,” said Rylan Blondo, 17, a counselor for two years. “We want the kids to want to win and to be competitive, so that they can make their school basketball teams and keep the basketball programs in Lynbrook schools alive.”
Meaghan McMahon, 15, a counselor at the camp, is a Valley Stream resident and Lynbrook High School student, and said that she noticed that basketball doesn’t seem to be as popular as other sports at LHS.
“We want to motivate the kids to play basketball, because in my opinion, after lacrosse and football, many Valley Streamers put away the basketball,” McMahon said. “I think camp encourages more kids to play because we motivate the kids.”
For many of the children, the camp taught them lessons that can help them off the courts.
“I learned how to have a hard-working mentality,” said Max Cordes, 14. “I like the way we are pushed to never give up.”
“Coach taught us that it’s not just about winning, but it’s about having fun,” added Thomas Franz, 9, “and I had so much fun playing and learning basketball this week.”
In comparison to other camps, Cooper Cordes, 11, said he found that Lynbrook Future Stars encouraged campers to workout, and get up early to attend camp, which helped him improve.
“Other camps don’t push us as hard because they mostly just do scrimmages, but coach makes us condition and we do push-ups if we do something wrong, which helped us become stronger and play better,” Cooper said. “Coach also taught me how to do planks and the importance of setting an alarm clock to wake up early for camp.”