ORONO – It was not unlike any other summer camp held on the University of Maine campus. Maine men’s basketball players worked with youth basketball players in a sweaty gym, giving tricks and tips to the young ballers on the blue court. But for this new era of Black Bears basketball, this year’s camp provides other opportunities.
“These relationships matter for November when we need the community to come support us this season,” assistant coach Edniesha Curry said Monday. “That’s why it’s important for us to have this.”
The new staff, headed by former women’s basketball coach Richard Barron, has made community outreach a priority in order to help strum up fan support. The coaches have pushed the players to form relationships with the campers, in an attempt to continue to build the future.
“It’s always awesome to give back, and it’s always a great opportunity to do great things for the Maine community,” she said. “And just for our players to get a chance to work with younger players who are looking up to them who have aspirations to play college basketball.”
But as forward and Maine-native Andrew Fleming added, this is a labor of live.
“Not just do the community work, but do it and love it and show that we want to do it. And I think that’s something that we’ve started doing now, and realizing that it actually means a lot to these kids and the people that we help out,” he said.
The players in attendance also said they were inspired by the passion displayed by the young players, including senior Ilija Stojiljkovic, who is working his final camp.
“I fell in love with basketball when i was pretty much a child, so seeing kids that are like seven, eight years old here playing basketball where the balls are pretty much bigger than them, it’s everything,” he said.