For a group of young basketball players spending the day in the Gloucester High School gymnasium came with the added bonus of picking up a few pro tips.
Gloucester Cumberland Basketball Association held a one-day clinic with former general manager of the Raptors Rob Babcock. The day included shooting techniques, drills and three-on-three games.
Organized by league volunteer and coach Gordon Hudson, a Navan resident, the day was all about getting to know the basics from the best.
“It’s not often that players have a chance to hear from someone with that much experience,” said Hudson, a former Ottawa Rough Riders player.
Youth between the ages of 10 to 15 year-old attended one of two sessions – morning and afternoon – on March 14 in the high school gym.
It is the first time the clinic has been offered, but something both Hudson and Babcock said they would gladly host again.
“It’s amazing what kids can do when you give them opportunity to learn,” Hudson said.
Babcock agreed, adding the most important thing he wanted all the players who attended the clinic to remember at the end of the day is perseverance is just as important as strength when it comes to playing this game.
“Some players will stand out for different reasons, because they might be physical gifted, but players who master all the idiosyncrasies of the game, and those who never give up, will be just as strong,” Babcock said.
Babcock has known Hudson for more than 15 years, through other work with the youth services, and when the call came asking if he would like to participate in a basketball clinic he jumped at the chance.
“I’m up here because of Gordon, but I’m at this clinic because of the kids,” Babcock said.
Babcock, who started his career as first a high school basketball coach, then college and eventually worked with the National Basketball Association, said teaching eight year-olds is no different than 20 year-olds.
“The game is the same,” Babcock said. “Whether you’re a pro or playing with your friends, the basics is the same. The things you need to do to win are the same.”
Babcock added he hoped every young player also learns the importance of working as a team.
“One thing you teach as a coach is 100 per cent effort, 100 per cent of the time,” Babcock explained. “If you miss a shot, you can’t drop your head and feel sorry for yourself, because then you will have just compounded your mistake. You have to give 100 per cent effort no matter what."
A man with a long history of court time to draw from, Babcock said he never grows tired of teaching the mechanics of the game and encourages anyone who is interested to start to play.
“If you can save enough to get a basketball and a pair of sneakers you are good to go,” he said. “If you have enough to get that, you are on your way.”
Hudson said for a group of kids who on a good day take time to control and settle down to listen, they stopped immediately to hear what Babcock had to say.
“The kids are over the moon. From the minute Rob (Babcock) started speaking they paid attention,” Hudson said.
Along with Hudson and Babcock, GCBA coaches and members of the University of Ottawa’s Gee Gees came to help teach the young players a trick or two.
Babcock, who started playing with his two brothers as a kid when his father hung a net above the garage door, said that aside from loving to develop a team to win, or teaching a group of kids the tricks of the trade, one thing has never changed for the old basketball player.
“I love the sound of the swish, you just can’t beat that sound."