FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — More than 200 children from Fort Cavazos participated in the free Marcus Smart Basketball Clinic Saturday at Abrams Physical Fitness Center here.
There also was a Mental Mindfulness portion of the camp that parents were encouraged to participate in.
Smart is a Texas native and is currently a point guard in the NBA, who was recently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies from the Boston Celtics. He felt the camp was a great way to give back to the children of military families.
“You’ve got families here risking their lives for our country and their kids unfortunately are brought into that,” he said. “They have no say so in where they are going to go. It’s hard to have a normal life when your family is in the (military). I just wanted to come and show these kids that just because they’re here doesn’t mean we don’t care. We care about them. We care about their families. We’re thankful for what their families are doing for our country and allowing someone like me to go play the game of basketball freely. It was important to me.”
Bill Wilk, director of Smart’s YounGameChanger Foundation, said they’ve been looking to incorporate programs that encourage good mental health.
“We figured what better place to start than military families,” he shared, “if we can just make a small change in their life through Marcus doing a free basketball clinic and helping their parents or guardians (through) a yoga mental health program that incorporates meditation, yoga and journal writing.”
While some parents were participating in Mental Mindfulness, the children were spending the six-hour-long camp learning ball handling techniques, proper shooting technique, rotating through different drill stations and using their newly learned skills against each other in five versus five games.
“They’re going through a very intense basketball clinic,” Wilk said. “This is Marcus’ regular camp that he runs. It’s no joke.”
At the end of the camp, Smart fielded some questions from the children and even attempted to dunk for them. He said he hopes the children gained a great work ethic from the clinic so they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.
“I hope by seeing somebody that they really look up to and they (think), ‘If he can do it, whatever I put my mind to, I can do it.’ It may not be basketball but as long as they work hard they can give themselves a shot at anything they want to do.”