By Kelsey Durham
At the Royal Skills basketball camp, children don’t just learn about basketball — they learn about life.
The clinic hosted its seventh annual event last Saturday, drawing in dozens of young athletes who were interested in learning basic skills about the sport. The children gathered on the basketball court behind IS 192, in Hollis, and spent the day learning drills and fundamentals from several basketball coaches.
Rod and Royal Ivey, the father-son duo who founded the camp and host it every year, started running the clinic as a way to give back to the young people in the community they call home, and the men said they have continued it every year because of its popularity and their love of working with children.
“We wanted to be able to reach out to kids and teach them the fundamentals of basketball,” Royal Ivey said. “They watch LeBron James and ‘SportsCenter’ and they all want to be famous basketball players, but they need to know the basics first.”
Royal Ivey, a graduate of Benjamin Cardozo High School, played college basketball at the University of Texas at Austin before going on to play in the NBA.
He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the NBA draft and has played for several professional teams since then.
The clinic is free for the first 100 children, ages 8 to 13, who sign up, and Royal Ivey said he and his father typically get more than that number of students to enter the weekend-long clinic each year. This summer, the camp was in danger of not happening because health issues prevented Rod Ivey from fully pursuing the event, but the pair said they decided to run it for at least one day because it meant a lot to them and the kids.
“We just like giving back to the community,” Royal Ivey said. “This is where I’m from. There are a lot of prominent people who came from this neighborhood, and some of them give back and some don’t. This is my way of giving back.”
Ted Gustus, a basketball coach who has volunteered at the camp every year, said the camp is a good way for children to learn lessons about life by having them disguised into basketball tips. He said he uses his time with them to help shape them into a character they can be proud of.
“Whenever you’re able to get young people’s attention, there should be a lesson there,” Gustus said. “This is a community thing that I really enjoy doing, whenever we have an opportunity to send a good message.”
Royal said he and his father, a part-time production artist for TimesLedger Newspapers, get phone calls from parents every year thanking them for hosting the clinic that the children of the surrounding neighborhoods love, but he said they don’t do it for the recognition. He said he knows he has to keep it going every year because it’s important to the community.
“It’s a chance to teach them life skills that will last forever,” he said. “Take nothing for granted and just be humble every day, because life is a very humbling experience. Just be thankful for every day.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.