UTICA – Oneida County Youth Bureau Director Kevin Green has developed quite a knack for drawing kids from all over Oneida County to events that involve high quality training, a lot of fun and are, last but not least, completely free.
Utica College Pioneers Men’s Basketball Coach Sean Coffey, who also serves on the Oneida County Youth Advisory Board, has developed a knack for winning basketball games, recruiting exceptional student athletes and, last but not least, getting local kids onto the UC campus for basketball skills training at no charge whatsoever.
On Saturday at the Hutton Recreation Center, the latest group of aspiring basketball players spread out over 4 full length basketball courts with the Utica College Men’s Basketball team and judging by the pace of the dribbling and width of the smiles on the kids faces, this year’s camp was another huge success.
“This is just amazing, what a facility and what a day for these kids” Kevin Green said with a wide grin himself. “I am so thankful for the help of Coach Coffey, his players and the local high school kids who showed up today to help”. Green, who also directs a track and field event and baseball clinic by the Youth Bureau during the Summer also wanted to be sure the kids who showed up on Saturday left with a message about academics. “Hopefully the kids here today will look around this campus and this unbelievable facility and see that all of this is reachable and understand that if you pay as much attention to your schoolwork as you do to your sport, a school like Utica College might just find you”.
Managing four basketball courts bustling with so many kids between the ages of 8 and 17 is no easy task, but the members of the Utica College Men’s Basketball Team actually made it look easy. “I love this, are you kidding me, this is what this sport and this team are all about” Pioneers freshman guard Jaylin Miller told MYSR, adding “We just finished a really tough finals week and we’ve got a game to get ready for tomorrow, but I know for myself there’s no place I’d rather be than right here working with these young players”.
Miller and his Pioneers teammates are off to a fast start this season, jumping out to a (5-1) record, which includes impressive wins over local rivals SUNY Poly and Morrisville State. The Pioneers are looking to keep things rolling as a program, which includes a (21-11) record over the past two years in Empire 8. UC reached the Empire 8 Tournament Championship game last season, a first in program history.
“Yes, we’re off to a fast start this year” Coach Coffey explained, adding quickly “we also know that things can go south in a hurry in this game, so we’re going to take it one day at a time and keep working hard”. Looking around at the mass of kids on the courts inside “The Hutt” Coach Coffey complimented his players for volunteering their time for local kids wanting to learn more about basketball. “These players just finished a week of finals and I know they’re tired, but they’re here and giving it their all which is great to see”.
In just three years, Kevin Green, Coach Sean Coffey, the County Youth Bureau and Utica College have teamed up to offer more than 300 local kids this clinic. This year’s event drew about 1oo kids. “It seems to grow every year and having this facility makes it special for local kids to have some fun and learn some basketball skills at no cost, I’m glad to be a part of it and keep it growing” Coffey added.
The Pioneers are back in action at 2 p.m. on Sunday as they host Mount St. Mary College at the newly remodeled Clark Athletic Center.
For more information on the programs offered by the Oneida County Youth Bureau, you can reach them at 315-798-5027.