Making baskets at camp

Jeff Tully

There are some things 13-year-old girls don’t particularly like doing

with their 9-year-old brothers.

Make that a lot of things.


But siblings Lizzy and Philip Brooks have found an activity they

can do together, and actually enjoy -- playing basketball.

The players were among 66 athletes Monday at Luther Burbank Middle

School who took part in the first day of a week-long MVP Summer


Basketball Camp at Luther Burbank Middle School.

Sponsored by the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services

Department, the camp is run by longtime Coach Mike Graceffo, who has

more than 25 years of coaching experience.

Graceffo said this installment of the camp has been the most


“We have been running these camps for a couple of years now, and

this is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” Graceffo said.


“We usually have two camps during the year, one in the winter and

one in the summer. We have been able to develop a pretty good

following, so that’s probably why this one has a lot of kids.”

Lizzy Brooks said attending Graceffo’s camp is a must.

“I’ve been at a few other camps before, but we always sign up for

this one,” she said.

“You learn a lot in this camp and they make it really fun.”

Along with the fun, Philip Brooks said the coaches do a good job


at keeping the young athletes in line.

“The coaches aren’t soft,” he said. “They are there to get after

you and make sure you do things the right way. They make sure we

behave and act right. But they’re also really nice.”

In the camp -- which runs through Friday -- athletes in the fourth

through eighth grades are engulfed with an overload of basketball.

However, the primary objective of the event is to teach athletes the

sport and help them refine their basketball skills.

Although heavy on fundamentals and skills drills, Graceffo said he

also tries to keep the players interested with other

basketball-related events.

“We have speakers and have a lot of shooting and other contests,”

Graceffo said. “There is also a pizza and pool party for the final

day on Friday. So there is a lot for the kids to do.”

On Tuesday, the players were treated to a visit by Hart High boys’

basketball Coach Tom Kelly. Bellamrmie-Jefferson boys’ Coach Eli Essa

is also scheduled to talk to the students.

The camp also features a group of coaches with local ties. One of

the coaches is former Burroughs and L.A. Marlborough girls’ star

Shaina Zaidi, who is headed to UCLA.

“I like the fundamentals they teach us here,” Lizzy Brooks said.

“The coaches really make you feel at home and that’s cool.”