Maple Leafs Reach Out To Community Through Clinics
GOSHEN, Ind. - At six-foot, eight-inches, senior Kyle Laker literally soars over typical elementary school kids. His shear size and strength is enough to get attention just by walking through the door.
But on Tuesday - and throughout the month of September - the roughly two-to-three foot difference in height between Laker and the average elementary school student seemed far less drastic than normal.
Why? Because Laker and his Maple Leaf teammates were there for something that transcends size, strength, or age: basketball.
The Goshen College men's basketball team has spent the past month - along with long and rigorous days of conditioning - traveling around to each of Goshen's elementary schools putting on free basketball clinics. Tuesday's clinics at Waterford Elementary and Parkside Elementary were just the latest in the line of seven area schools that Goshen players and coaches hit this month.
"We wanted to start to get our guys out into the community a little," said Goshen assistant coach Neal Young, who was joined the Maple Leaf coaching staff late this summer.
The community has certainly been benefiting from the outreach. The Maple Leafs have put on the clinics for well over 100 elementary school kids already this year, with plans to continue the program next year, if not late next spring.
For around two hours each session, Goshen players and coaches have drilled the basics of the game of basketball, while providing plenty of fun and active games to keep the attention of their students.
For Laker and fellow senior Bryce Bow, putting on basketball clinics for children is nothing new. They both had high school coaches that were heavily involved in summer camps and so came into Goshen with experience.
"It is always fun to be with the kids and see them having a good time," said Laker, who admits that it doesn't hurt that their conditioning gets shortened on clinic days.
For other members of the Maple Leafs, the September clinics were more of an eye-opening experience.
"Some of our guys are more passive or just not very loud spoken," explained Young. "Putting them in charge of a group of kids has forced them to step up a bit and take some more leadership."
So while the Goshen community and its children have been getting to take advantage of some positive role models and quality basketball instruction, Maple Leaf coaches are banking on the fact that this program has also continued the development of its leaders on and off the court.