Community ties set Ryan Hollins skills camp apart
Basketball: Newly signed Los Angeles Clipper center returns to Muir High for annual Ryan Hollins skills camp.
Ryan Hollins, of the Los Angeles Clippers and a Muir High graduate, smiles as one of the kids during drills at John Muir High for the Ryan Hollins Basketball Skills Camp for youth players from age 8 to 18 in Pasadena. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / July 31, 2012)
The three-day basketball clinic, which runs Monday through Wednesday at Muir High, had about 80 participants and 30 coaches present Tuesday and included the personal touch of Hollins, a 2002 Muir alumnus and six-year NBA pro who recently signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I remember as a kid going to these camps with [Camp Director] Gheren [Vitte],” Hollins said. “I feel like it’s my turn to give back to my community. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got and I want to let others know if they work hard, they can have the same.”
The camp was broken up into two gyms, with younger players participating in the small gym and the varsity gym holding drills primarily for junior high and high-school aged players.
Hollins spent most of his time in the varsity gym and bounced between each coaching station.
The coaching stations were run by at least two coaches and engaged anywhere from 5-15 kids in different on-ball and off-ball drills.
“Some guys like to lend their name to causes, but I like to get hands on,” Hollins said. “I’m not making any money on this and neither are the coaches. We’re sacrificing our free time for the kids because we feel this is important.”
Hollins’ camp included several former teammates in Horace Wormely, Chris Dixon, Seth Davis, Anthony Bailey and Jamaal Hall, while former Muir coaches Gamal Smalley and Don Grant were also present.
“I was driving down the freeway and I started to get excited getting off on Lincoln Avenue,” said Grant, who coached Hollins in 2002 and left shortly after for Occidental College. “This has always been a special place.”
Grant helped with younger campers and acknowledged a sense of satisfaction in both helping and watching his former pupils.
“There are so many negatives with being a head coach nowadays,” Grant said. “What’s rewarding, though, is coming back and seeing what kind of impact you’ve had on your former players and seeing them give back.”
Smalley, who resigned from coaching the Muir boys in March, had no problem assisting.
“This is what it’s all about. I’m happy to be here and give back,” Smalley said. “I’m always going to be a part of this community, whether I’m coaching or not.”
One of Smalley’s intent listeners was nine-year-old Sydney Brumfield of Altadena, who wasted no time in setting picks.
“I really liked the screen drills. Those were fun,” Brumfield said. “This was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”
As for the older campers, 15-year-old Daron Henson of Pasadena stood out, literally, as the 6-foot-7, 170-pound incoming freshman showed off his talents to the coaches, including Alemany’s Tray Meeks, who will welcome the ninth-grader this fall.
“I’ve worked with Coach Wormely and Coach Meeks and know what to expect,” Henson said. “It’s been fun here with guys from the community. Even though I’m heading to Alemany doesn’t mean I’m not a Pasadena guy.”
The camp, which has a relatively low $50 charge for all three days, continues Wednesday.
“This has been always been a fun camp, not just for the kids, but for the coaches,” Vitte said. “I remember growing up in Pasadena and attending the Stacey Augmon camp, the Michael Cooper camp and the Rocky [Moore] camp.
“Those were always special moments for me and it’s great that we’re able to create new ones here.”