Athletes use summer to volunteer, give back at camps
| 8:31 a.m. June 25, 2015
WINDERMERE — A timeout was called with just seconds remaining.
The two huddles of opposing teams convened with Windermere Prep basketball standouts David Nickelberry and Xion Golding at the center of the respective gatherings. The two rising juniors each drew up a play, and the players — most of whom were about half their height — did their best to execute.
Of course, at a weeklong basketball camp such as the one the Windermere Prep boys basketball team hosted recently, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. The summer camps, held by WPS and other private schools, such as CFCA and Foundation Academy, are a chance for these schools to develop young players and showcase their varsity athletes as positive role models for younger children.
It’s also an opportunity for the schools to teach their varsity athletes about giving back.
“It’s huge for a couple reasons,” said Brad Augustine, an assistant coach for the Lakers who ran the camp. “High-school guys tend to get so locked in. … (Volunteering) gives them the perspective that basketball is really a fun sport. The other thing we stress is it’s relationships — I think it’s kind of a unifying thing (for the team).”
For Nickelberry, a talented forward who transferred to the Lakers from rival The First Academy, it was a rewarding experience at his new school.
“It makes me feel good — I’m happy that I can help kids and help improve their game,” Nickelberry said. “I had a team, and I had to coach them … I could kind of correlate that to being a leader on the team (during the regular season).”
For schools such as WPS, CFCA and Foundation, the camps have added value, too. They can be tools to bring exposure to the prospective students and families, and many of those young players will grow up to compete for the same programs during their varsity careers.
“A lot of our guys (on JV or varsity currently) were those campers back in middle school,” Augustine said. “So it’s a unique opportunity for them to be able to invest back in those kids so that when they come back to campus three or four years after they graduate to watch a game, they’ll see those kids they worked with at camp. There’s something special about that.”
And as for the campers who get to interact and learn from the varsity players, it can be an inspiring experience.
“For the younger kids, it really is a treat,” Augustine said. “To them, those guys are NBA players.”