By Kyle Ford, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 2, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Hundreds of sneakers squeaked across the polished hardwood floor at Martinez Gym as children learned fundamentals from members of the University of Hawaii Men's Basketball Team, Aug. 18-21. Teammates and coaches experienced a taste of Army life during the day and shared their basketball knowledge at the gym in the afternoon. "Are you ready to have fun'" Jackson Wheeler, U.H. assistant head coach, asked the group of children before releasing them to various stations. "Yeah!" they screamed. Chattering children and bouncing balls filled the gym as participants practiced passing, dribbling, shooting and defensive drills. Children and parents appreciated the clinics. "It was good," said Devin Chandler, age 6, after the clinic. "I liked the defensive drills." "All the players are very friendly, and they make sure you understand how to do the exercises, " said Lei-Lani Beasley, 10. "And they make sure you can do it. I really look up to these guys." "It's awesome; I only regret that it's only two days," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Quentin Chandler, flight safety officer, VR51 Kaneohe Bay. "It's great to have these guys come out here and give a camp for free. There aren't that many places in the mainland that offer free clinics." "Our child was very excited to meet actual basketball players, and we talked about how, if he practiced, he could play in college himself," said Warrant Officer Carolyn Fontaine. Family members of deployed Soldiers were especially grateful for the positive influence players provided. "I think it's awesome for the players to take their time out to give back to the community and volunteer their time," said Sgt. Janice Wilson, noncommissioned officer in charge, 25th Transportation Company. "I just wish my son's father, who is at NTC (National Training Center) was here to see him out there." "Both our husbands are at NTC, and the fact that they take the time out to be a positive male influence to children whose fathers are gone overseas is great," said Tracy Beegen, family member. "I'm sure there are other things these guys could be doing before going back to class." Players and coaches alike said they were happy to volunteer their time. "Being surrounded by service members and knowing what they give to our community and the nation, we wanted to figure out a way to give back to them," said Bob Nash, U.H. Men's Basketball Team head coach. "Since our specialty is basketball, we came up with the idea of a clinic for the family members." "I just want to give back to the kids," said Gary Satterwhite, point guard. "My dad is in the Air Force, so I know what it's like to have your dad deploy ... I was just like these kids in the gym playing pick-up games." "I like giving back to the community and seeing the kids smile," said Beau Albrechtson, guard for U.H. It wasn't all just basketball for the volunteers; they also got a taste of Army training and Army life. "I think the players are learning a little bit as well ... What we do as Soldiers in our Army every day," Wilson added. "It's great having these guys here," said Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Leavy, Unit Logistical Support Team, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. "As much as these guys give to the community, we wanted to give them a view of a side of the Army they may not see." The Soldiers' view included PT (physical training) with units, a Stryker simulator, water survival training, meals at the dining facilities, and tours of the Wheeler Army Airfield flightline and Tropic Lightning Museum. "Seeing someone six-foot-ten crawling out of the top of a humvee after it 'rolled over' four times is priceless," added Leavy. This year's clinic marked the second time the team brought its basketball expertise to the families of Soldiers. Nash said the team would like to make the event a regular occurrence. "It's a matter of making sure we can fit it in our schedule," Nash said. "This is strictly volunteer for the players. They give up their time to come out here."