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Burbank residents continue marching to annual MVP Summer Basketball Camp

Athletes go through a drill at the 16th annual MVP Summer Basketball Camp.

Athletes go through a drill at the 16th annual MVP Summer Basketball Camp.

(Tim Berger Staff Photographer)

BURBANK — Just before 6 p.m. Monday, a block of North Maple Street was virtually empty near Luther Burbank Middle School.

The road was quickly lined with parked cars on both sides by 6, as parents dropped off their children to attend the 16th annual MVP Summer Basketball Camp at the school’s oval-shaped gymnasium.

Once everybody checked in and prepared for a four-day stretch that focused on a wide-range of fundamentals from agility to rebounding to shooting, Mike Graceffo put the group of about 75 to work.

It’s something Graceffo, who serves as Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services coordinator and has coached multiple sports in town for more than 35 years, is used to doing during the summer.

“We get a lot done in the four days and we want them to be sharp in knowing the game,” said Graceffo, who conducts a similar camp in the winter. “It’s mostly about learning the fundamentals and seeing what their needs are.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to pick up some pointers, so they’ll be able to use them in game situations when they go on to play for their travel or school teams.”

The camp, which consisted mostly of Burbank residents, is geared for boys and girls in grades five through eight. The event will wrap up Thursday night. Over the past several summers, Graceffo conducted the camp at McCambridge Park’s gymnasium. The session last summer lasted two days.

The latest rendition included many returners and some participants making their first appearance looking to brush up on their skills.

On Monday, the camp started with the usual stretching before dribbling and passing exercises.

“It’s all about being stretched out properly so they can dive into the different things being taught,” Graceffo said. “You want to be warmed up the right way.

“My assistants and I like to run a program where we are always showing them something. It can be from boxing out and grabbing a rebound to making a good pass to shooting the correct way. In the end, it’s about the kids and helping them improve any way we can. You never get tired of teaching and it’s rewarding to see them go on to play at other levels.”

At the end of the event, the campers pick up a certificate of participation and a personalized assessment book describing the their strengths and things they need to fortify.

Chase Kardosh, 10, arrived early Monday before taking in the information taught to him.

“I came for the first time last summer,” said Kardosh, who will be a fifth grader at Ralph Emerson Elementary School. “They teach so many things and I just wanted to come back and learn more on how to get better at dribbling, shooting and playing defense.

"[Graceffo] works with you to get better and you feel yourself becoming more comfortable.”

Jordan English, 12, returned to the camp for the fourth time.

English, who attends David Starr Jordan Middle School in Burbank, said the communication skills make the camp more enjoyable.

“Mike has a lot of experience teaching basketball and he just wants to see you improve,” English said. “He’s very good at breaking things down by explaining them clearly. He’s always encouraging you.”

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Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich


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