The Los Angeles Clippers held their first Junior Clippers Clinic of 2012 on Sunday, Jan. 8 at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Students gym.
The clinic welcomed around 100 kids who are current participants in the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Basketball program. Players ages five to 16 had the opportunity to work on various basketball skills from passing to shooting and ball handling while gaining helpful tips from Clippers current players Trey Thompkins and Reggie Evans and former Clipper player Sean Rooks.
"There is a lot of talent here," said Rooks after the clinic on Sunday. "We just want to teach them that the more work you put in, the better you become."
Rooks admitted going through phases of producing bad grades and having to work hard to get better at his game when he was young, and said that it was his struggles that allow him to relate to today's attendants. Players started the clinic with a group warm-up led by Rooks before splitting up into age groups led by coaches like Thompkins , Evans, Rooks and other Clippers staff. Each group spent approximately ten minutes at stations working on shooting, layups, dribbling and passing.
Rooks started the exercises with the number one rule for the day: have fun.
"My son gets to learn about sportsmanship and team building and getting involved with other kids," said Kimberly Caesar, a parent whose son, Derrick Hayes, participated in today's clinic. "He woke up this morning and wanted to come and play, and I told him he had to wait, that it wasn't time yet."
"My favorite Clippers player is Blake Griffin," said 6-year-old Hayes. "My favorite part of today was when I was shooting the ball."
The festivities did not end when the final whistle blew. Participants took a group picture before sitting down for a Q&A session with Rooks, Thompkins and Evans.
The event wrapped up with children picking up their free Clippers pencils, mini-flags and a book of their choice from the NBA Read to Achieve table.
The Junior Clippers program has held clinics with the LACRP for more than 10 years and aims to enhance the players' basketball experience without taking the place of their involvement with their current LACRP basketball teams. The Los Angeles Clippers also sponsors a large number of teams from different centers in Los Angeles in order to help relieve some of the cost necessary to participate in the basketball programs, making it easier on low income families.
"We're really thankful the Clippers and Mr. Sterling want to put the money into the program," said Carl Cooper, Principal Recreation Supervisor for the LACRP. "It really makes a difference."
Cooper has worked with the Clippers for many years and seen firsthand the positive influence the Junior Clippers program has on the different recreation centers. Now, a total of 11 facilities benefit from the Junior Clippers.