FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. - With an eye on strengthening community relationships with Brooklyn youth and education officials, Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion New York City, in conjunction with a U.S. Army PaYS partner and local education officials, spawned a great deal of goodwill during another successful community-based U.S. Army basketball clinic at Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay High School April 4.

The clinic, a second this season for the recruiting noncommissioned officers assigned to the New York City Battalion, but a first for the Brooklyn-based Sheepshead Bay High School, is the positive result of a strengthening relationship between the battalion, the New York City Department of Education and Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS)partner, Nets Basketball.

"These basketball clinics make our kids better players because they reinforce good discipline standards and reiterate the importance of following the rules of the league," said Lavar French, 24, Sheepshead Bay High School junior varsity basketball coach. "Basketball is a favorite sport here among Brooklynites, and many of our kids dream of playing the champions at the Garden [Madison Square Garden]. So for them, having this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play basketball with a Nets Basketball star is a dream come true."

During the clinic, three Nets Basketball clinicians accompanied by Nets Basketball Center, Brook Lopez, gave one-on-one attention to approximately 20 student athletes to help them practice and improve their basketball fundamentals like dribbling, passing and shooting and defensive posturing.

"This is a big deal for us," said high school junior and ball player, Abdoulaye Diallo. "Not everyone gets the chance to experience practicing their game with a professional basketball player. The best part of all was how they were pushing us to keep going, try harder, don't quit ... because it gave us a feeling of what the NBA is really like."

Senior and varsity player, Yves Andre, who mistakenly left his uniform at home, realized the impact from the sidelines of the Army-led basketball clinic.

"All of us b-ball players want to make it someday, so we're very honored, and it's very exciting to have them [Nets Basketball] come here to our school."

"You know, we're not that far apart in age," said Brook Lopez, 23, Nets Center. "It's great to hang out with young folks like the players here."

"These kids will remember this moment for the rest of their lives," said the school's Athletic Director Neil Griffenberg.

"This event opened up a lot of doors for the U.S. Army in many good ways," said Sgt. Allan A. McNeal, recruiting NCO assigned to the U.S. Army Career Center Coney Island. "The principal, at one point, was not informed about the U.S. Army and what we stood for. The event helped her to see the U.S. Army is here to assist her with not just the mentorship of the students, but also to give them a window of hope for a good career in the future."

Page last updated Thu April 7th, 2011 at 15:09