Wolves Players Teach Game To Next Generation On Caravan

Wolves Players Teach Game To Next Generation On Caravan

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Part of the Timberwolves Summer Caravan presented by U.S. Bank experience is taking time at each of the team’s stops to talk with kids and provide a free youth basketball camp. The 2013 version of the Caravan did just that in Rochester, Duluth and Fargo.

Led by player development coach Shawn Respert and forwards Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham, the Wolves taught the next generation basic dribbling, passing and shooting skills with hopes that they’ll wind up with a lifelong memory in the process.

Each camp session ends with Crunch providing some on-court entertainment, including a high-flying dunk show.

“That’s what it’s all about—giving back and paying it forward,” said Steve Courts, CEO of the Rochester YMCA. “To see players of their stature giving back and paying it forward has been outstanding.”

It’s a big part of the Caravan’s initiative to meet with fans across the region. Kids are able to meet NBA players and learn skills they can take with them as they grow older. It’s something the players enjoy, not only because they are able to get out into different communities but they also get to leave a lasting impression.

Budinger said he never got to attend a youth camp with an NBA player, and if he had he felt like it would be an experience he’d never forget. So when he led these youth camps on the Caravan, he thought about making sure these kids had a memorable, informative time.

Even over the course of a couple hours, the players saw improvement.

“Just their faces light up when we come into the gym and they introduce us,” Cunningham said. “Watching them develop and grow in just a couple hours that we’re with them.”

Respert, whose job with the Wolves includes tactical drills that help NBA players improve on a daily basis, said he once was one of those kids hoping to learn. Since then, he’s been a dynamic collegiate scorer, an NBA veteran and now a coach in the league. Trips like the Summer Caravan help him give back to a new group of kids who could one day take that same path.

That’s something community members and parents enjoyed about the camp.

“It’s amazing and greatly appreciated that they can take the time to do this for the younger generation,” said Shauntel McCartney, a Duluth mother. “Because I know my son especially hopes to someday be in the NBA.”

That’s why whenever the Caravan announces its destinations for the summer, those communities get excited about the experience their area kids will get to enjoy.

“It’s a wonderful stop,” Courts said. “Kids look forward to this all summer long. Kids ask about it—when’s it going to happen? And this year, getting Chase and Dante as players has been absolutely outstanding.”

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