At the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club, where the gym is nearly always full, a colorful poster on the front door advertises something special: a three-day basketball camp featuring New York street ball celebrity Larry Williams.
It all kicks off Oct. 14. Open to kids age five and older, the camp includes a Friday-evening meet-and-greet and 12 hours of training sessions for a cost of $150. The whole thing is organized by League Music Entertainment, a local business owned by Torey Mathews and TaShanne Casey.
So how does a music business come to host a basketball camp at the neighborhood Boys & Girls Club?
Like this: Casey has a 10-year-old son of her own, a budding athlete who loves basketball and dreams of playing for Duke University, then maybe going pro.
“Once my son really started getting into sports, we really started to realize how the kids here don’t have the same opportunities as the kids in the Lower 48 when it comes to sports,” she said.
So she and her partner developed a plan to do something about it. Mathews recruited Williams, an old friend. They drew up contracts; booked the Boys & Girls Club gym; set up an online registration portal. Several people donated money for scholarships. Casey drove to high schools around Anchorage to hang posters and spread the word.
The camp has been nearly three months in the making, Casey said. There’ve been bumps in the road along the way, but it’s worth it in the end, because the effort is about much more than just basketball.
In light of everything that’s happened over the past year — the shootings and the robberies and the fights, many involving teenagers and other young people — the camp is a way to make a positive change, Casey said. They named it the Bounce Back From Violence Basketball Camp, because that’s the ultimate goal
“Community is really important to us,” she said.
“If we can just get the kids focused on something that they love … When you have something that you love and that you’re working towards, you have goals, you have something to keep you focused, versus hanging around, and then you get with this crowd, and next thing you know you’re doing this and you’re doing that, and then things happen.”