The Orlando Magic and UnitedHealthcare Team Up to Provide Local Youth Magic Basketball Camp Scholarships
By John Denton
June 19, 2014
ORLANDO – Orlando’s Aljeroy Sneed fashions himself as a point guard like Chris Paul and he makes no bones about loving the way that the San Antonio Spurs played team-first basketball during their demolition of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
But there is no question when it comes to who Sneed’s favorite team is. It’s the Orlando Magic, and the reason is far more than the fact that the Magic are simply Sneed’s hometown team.
Sneed, a 12-year-old who will be going into the seventh grade at Lake Nona Middle School in the fall, is one of a select few participating in the Orlando Magic Youth Basketball Camps presented by UnitedHealthcare this week on a need-based scholarship courtesy of UnitedHealthcare. Sneed attended the Magic camp last year and saw his skills dramatically improve, so much so that he even scored 20-something points in an AAU game this past season. The well-spoken pre-teen was nearly moved to tears on Monday when talking about the impact that the Magic have on kids in the community by conducting camps all over Central Florida.
“It’s great that the Magic care about the kids and put on camps like this. It’s really nice for them to want to help out,” Sneed said. “It’s the Magic and their name says it all. They are pretty cool. It’s a really nice thing they are doing for the kids here.”
The campers at the Orange County/Orlando Magic Rec Center on Econlockhatchee Trail were treated to a pep talk and instruction on Monday from Magic legend Nick Anderson, the franchise’s No. 2 scorer in history.
Anderson, who was the first player ever inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame this past spring, addressed the 45 kids at the camp and told them the importance of mastering the fundamentals of basketball. Anderson then rammed that point by asking the group if they watched San Antonio’s throttling of the Heat in the NBA Finals.
“What did you think of the fundamentals of the Spurs?’’ Anderson asked rhetorically. “They moved the ball better, took good shots, found the open man, worked together and listened to their coaches. They won because that happened. The Miami Heat might have been more talented, but they were not as fundamentally sound as the Spurs. Keep that in mind this week when you are learning the fundamentals of the game.”
ORANGE COUNTY/MAGIC GYMS ARE “FANTASTIC”
Many of the camps are conducted at the spectacular Orange County/Orlando Magic Recreation Centers.
Each of the five facilities -- South Econ Community Park, Goldenrod Park, Meadow Woods Park, Silver Star Community Park and Mildred Dixon Community Park – feature 24,398 square feet of space for basketball, weight-lifting, game rooms and meeting space.
The community gyms were donated and built by the Orlando Magic and are operated and maintained by Orange County.
“This facility is fantastic with how big it is and how clean it is and it’s a perfect place to have a camp like this,” Camp Director Ryan Kittleson said. “And with the Magic logo on the court and everything they’ve done here, it’s just a fantastic place for the kids to come and play basketball.”
Kittleson said the goal of the basketball camp is to help youngsters develop their basketball fundamentals while having a blast over the summer break.
“The biggest thing for us is helping the kids develop their skills and their basketball knowledge,” he said. “All of these kids are here because they love the game and enjoy the game. Now, we want to help them enhance their knowledge of the game and help get them where they want to be.”
“I LOVE MAKING THOSE SHOTS”
Joel Reyes, a 10-year-old future fifth grader at Hidden Oaks Elementary, is also attending a Magic Camp this week thanks to a partial scholarship courtesy of UHC. Wearing a T-shirt with the word, “PLAYMAKER” emblazoned on the front, Reyes said he plays basketball for one simple reason.
“I really love making those shots,” Reyes said with a big smile. “It feels so good seeing the ball go in the hoop.’”
Sneed said attending last year’s Magic camp made him a better dribbler and it taught him some drills to work on while he’s playing basketball by himself or with friends. He hopes to use this week to become a better defender and a playmaker for others. He dreams of playing in the NBA, excelling at the point guard position like Chris Paul and possibly even donning a Magic jersey someday.
“Basketball is my favorite sport. I like that you have to be athletic and you have to help out your teammates to be successful,” Sneed said. “Also, you must get better at it if you want to have the skills that you need. And it’s something that is really fun to play. I love it.”
The Magic are conducting 19 day camps throughout Central Florida from June 9 through Aug. 8. There will also be an overnight camp from June 29 through July 3 at Warner University in Lake Wales, a three-hour mini-camp on July 19 in Maitland and TNBA/Magic Challenges on July 7-9 and August 4-6. And a camp highlight will be the Victor Oladipo/Orlando Magic Youth Camp on July 12.
To register for a camp or view all of the options available, fans can go to OrlandoMagicCamps.com.