By Madina Toure
At a basketball clinic in Corona last weekend, two-time NBA all-star Allan Houston spoke to students and parents about the importance of believing in themselves as well as the fundamentals of the game.
The FISLL Leadership Development Workshop and Basketball Clinic, hosted by the Houston’s Legacy Foundation and the New York Knicks, was held at the Louis Armstrong Recreational Center at Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities on 108th Street and Northern Boulevard. The clinic was for youth between the ages of 10 and 18, as well as their mentors.
The program, created by Houston, centers on the core values of faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership and legacy, known collectively as FISLL. The workshop/clinic focused on character building, goal setting, developing healthy mentor/mentee relationships and the basics of basketball.
Houston is currently the assistant general manager for the New York Knicks and the general manager for the Knicks’ NBA Development Team, the Westchester Knicks. He was named “Father of the Year” by the National Fatherhood Initiative in 2007.
“We have to try to send a different message to the youth we work with now,” he said.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz praised both the basketball players in attendance and the FISLL program.
“It really shows that the kids today are the leaders of the future,” Katz said.
State Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) also made an appearance at the event. Felipe López, retired NBA player and former star for the St. John’s University Red Storm; producer and rapper Kurtis Blow; and Queens native and New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn were also present.
Houston asked mentors and mentees to participate in exercises that demonstrated how to undertake different basketball shots as well as showing the importance of teamwork. During the clinic, participants were broken up into groups and took part in exercises at different stations.
There was one activity in which students and mentors were broken up in two groups and each team was asked to line up in order of smallest shoe size to the biggest shoe size without speaking to one another.
South Jamaica resident Steve Leland, 48, who is a mentor to his son, James, 13, said he wanted his son to experience the basketball clinic so that he can learn about core values such as sacrifice and integrity.
“We were basically just talking about this this morning,” Steve Leland said.
James said the clinic taught him some important life skills.
“I learned not just about becoming a better basketball player but a better human being,” he said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour