GLENDALE — Jeff Calixto was usually delegated to the bench when he first started playing basketball. After spending the past two summers at Mark Herring's Hoopapalooza, Inc. Summer Basketball Camp, Calixto's taken a significant leap in his game.
The Hoopapalooza, Inc. Summer Basketball Camp is an annual week-long event, which concluded its second year Friday, put on by Herring at the Pacific Community Center. It's designed for beginners and primarily brings in 10 to 14-year olds.
"I keep coming [to the camp] because before I wasn't really good at basketball," said Calixto, a 12-year old Tujunga resident. "I would always be the bench warmer. Ever since I joined Mark's camp and kept coming back I've gotten a lot better and improved."
Herring, a basketball camp counselor who's worked with Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski's camps, founded Hoopapalooza, Inc. four years ago in North Carolina. He brought it out to Glendale about 14 months ago in hopes of strengthening California's basketball culture.
The Hoopapalooza, Inc. Summer Basketball camp is an introduction to the game of basketball to many young players. Campers learn fundamentals of the game like ball handling, passing drills, foot work, agility and shooting form.
"There is a lot of instruction and drills, things they can stick with and kind of hang on to and take with them," Herring said.
Lessons are taught a number of different ways in Herring's camp: through drills, scrimmages, shooting competitions and even in a classroom setting.
"We teach them how to play the game of basketball," Herring said. "We have a 45-minute class session every day called Basketball 101, which is where they learn positioning, spacing the floor and the rules of the game."
Blake Michael, a 11-year old South Pasadena resident, said he's "learned a lot" from the Hoopapalooza camp.
"It was really, really cool this week. I really enjoyed it," said Michael, who dreams of one day playing professional basketball. "I have learned a lot of technique, like how to shoot textbook form. I wasn't the best shooter here, but coach really helped me learn how to shoot the ball and put back spin on it."
Herring hopes his camp serves as a launching pad for each kid's interest in basketball by providing them with the basics of the game and an overall fun time.
"I want them to learn how to work together, good sportsmanship, learn the basic fundamentals of the game and to continue learning the fundamentals," Herring said.
There's no doubt Liezel Dignos, a 14-year old La Crescenta resident, is one of Herring's success stories.
"I have potential after this camp," Dignos said. "I got really inspired to do more basketball. I want to keep working on the drills by myself."
For more information on Hoopapalooza, Inc. and upcoming clinics, you can call (919) 667-6556.