Basketballs swished through hoops and sneakers squeaked on the basketball court at the Recreation, Education and Kinesiology Center on campus as kids practiced shots and free throws in the company of retired NBA star George “The Iceman” Gervin on Saturday.
The clinic, hosted by H.O.P.E. 4 Kids Living With Diabetes, is meant to get children moving instead of languishing in front of a television or computer screen, said Mayte Gutierrez, president of the organization.
“With all this technology,” Gutierrez said, “we need to keep kids outdoors and active.”
Gutierrez said she doesn’t let her children waste too much time with technology.
Her methods seem to be working because at the mention of technology and video games her 9-year-old daughter Marlen said, “Yuck.”
“It’s funner (sic) than just sitting down all day doing nothing,” Marlen said of the basketball clinic.
That’s the attitude hall-of-famer Gervin wishes most children had.
“We are in the technology world,” Gervin said.
“When I was young you stayed outside playing, we exercised all the time. And today we have a problem to get kids out. So we use basketball as a tool to really open these babies’ eyes.”
For some of the kids participating, the clinic was just an opportunity to improve their skills rather than an activity to bring awareness to diabetes.
Carolina Lopez, a participant, said she wants to improve her basketball skills.
“It’ll help me strengthen my defense,” the 13-year-old said during a break from the agility ladder exercise.
Ashley Castillo, 12, agrees.
Felicia Edge, vice president of H.O.P.E., said as a parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes it’s important to incorporate exercise with fun activities.
“It’s just a good way to introduce kids to a great lifestyle,” Edge said. “The kids don’t even know, they are just having fun.”
Twelve-year-old Abel Garcia said the clinic was a fun away to do something active.
As for his basketball skills, Abel said, “I’m good enough.”
He said he can probably make six out of 10 shots, but he would not be able to take on Gervin.
“No way,” Abel said. “He’s too tall.”
Gervin spends time walking around the court encouraging kids and showing them proper basketball shooting technique. Though he admits he doesn’t play anymore, he still makes half of his free throws, most of them soaring through the net without touching the rim.
“I shoot around still,” Gervin said. “There’s probably nobody in here that can beat me at shooting.”
With the exception of his son, Gervin admits a moment later.
Gervin, who lives in San Antonio (and roots for the Spurs this playoff season), spends time championing causes that are important to him.
Diabetes has affected those close to him, he said.
“It affects my life,” Gervin said. “If I can be a voice to bring awareness to it then that’s something I want to do.”