Team March dependents, between the ages of six and 18, participated in the National Basketball Association Cares Hoops for Troops basketball clinic at the March Fitness Center on Sunday. The NBA launched the inaugural event here in conjunction with the Defense Department’s Healthy Base Initiative, selecting March Air Reserve Base as one of their five stops on a year-long tour.
As the kids took to the court, 452nd Air Mobility Wing Commander, Col. Samuel Mahaney, was on hand to express the importance of the HBI.
“Today is the very first day of the Healthy Base Initiative and you’re part of that kick-off,” said Mahaney. Referencing the importance of nutrition and exercise, he went on to say that it is vital for parents to be involved with the HBI as well. “It’s important so that they can take care of our mission and they can take care of you day in and day out.”
Exercise was at the forefront of the hour-and-a-half long event with NBA clinician, Frank Lopez, NBA legend Norm Nixon and Women’s NBA legend Ruthie Bolton, on hand to motivate the kids.
“Our military people sacrifice so much,” Nixon said. “It’s a small sacrifice for us to come here and spend some time with the kids and the families.”
“What we’re doing is bigger than the game,” said Bolton, who is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist. “We’re all here trying to give them a foundation; to teach them about discipline, work ethic, mind-set, attitude and the importance of taking care of their bodies.”
Her mission since she has retired from basketball is to make a difference, give back and really help to pave the way for young kids, Bolton said.
“As good as it feels playing basketball and hitting that winning shot or making that great stop, to be able to see these kids smile and being a part of this family, of this initiative, is an amazing experience,” Bolton added.
Lopez, the son of a preacher, worked his inspiration on the kids to get them warmed up and ready to work. His broadcaster-like voice created excitement in the gym and anticipation for the exercises the kids would go through. He pumped up their enthusiasm for the event, which included drills for passing, shooting and dribbling, as well as shuttle and ladder runs and team push-ups. Six Team March military volunteers served as station leads, assisting the NBA talent with instructing the dependents.
“I learned to stay quick on the ball and to just keep practicing, and I really liked the way they talked to us, and that they took the time to actually come down here,” said Joshua Jones, 15.
Incorporating families into the HBI “is a really good idea,” Jones said. “It’s going to keep everybody healthy and fit.”
After the clinic, the kids lined up to get autographs and pictures with Nixon and Bolton. They also received an NBA Cares T-shirt and a mini basketball, courtesy of the NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program.
“It’s always fun to talk to kids about the fundamentals of basketball because those are the same fundamentals that transition to sports, occupations and anything that you do,” said Nixon. “Go a little beyond what everybody else does. Work hard, practice fundamentals and focus on the things you can’t do to make a difference in your game.”
NOTE: For those within the military community not taking part in the HBI, Operation Live Well’s web portal (www.health.mil) and social media channels are available for finding the latest research, tools and resources, and for providing input and feedback. Let them know what you like and dislike. Share your thoughts and opinions on the tools and materials. Change starts with one person at a time, and each voice counts. Visit Facebook and YouTube – operationlivewell; twitter – @dod_olw; Pinterest – oplivewell.
The NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program is the league’s global, year-round program honoring active and retired service men, women and their families. To learn more about the NBA Cares programs, visit www.nba.com/cares.