Bucks Host Special Olympics Clinic
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It is not every day you can learn how to shoot free throws with Corey Maggette, dribbling techniques from Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson or shoot layups with Earl Boykins. On Monday, more than 200 athletes from Special Olympics of Wisconsin had that unique opportunity with the Bucks annual Special Olympics Clinic at Homestead High School.
For over 20 years, the Bucks have hosted a clinic for Special Olympic athletes and according to Milwaukee Bucks Director of Community Relations, Skip Robinson, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the Bucks players.
"This is by far the most exciting event we do every year and players fight to volunteer at this event," Robinson said. "These kids, look at them, look at how excited they are about the Milwaukee Bucks; it's exciting."
The Homestead Field House was buzzing with activity Monday night as the Special Olympians rotated through eight different stations, where they were greeted by a member of the Bucks. The athletes learned different basketball techniques from assistant coaches Sampson and Joe Wolf, along with Maggette, Boykins, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ersan Ilyasova, Garrett Temple and even Bucks mascot Bango got in on the fun. After the clinic, the players and coaches signed autographs for all the athletes.
"I think it's an awesome opportunity for our athletes to learn from the Bucks and get to see them up close and personal," said Brandon Tanner, Regional Director of Development for Special Olympics of Greater Milwaukee Area 8. "What we're all about is providing sports training and competition and this, more than anything, meets that."
The event has grown over the years and on Monday, 17 different Special Olympic teams from throughout the state were in attendance. The teams included the Waukesha A's, North Suburban Special Olympics, Wauwatosa Special Olympics, MPS-Marshall, West Allis Special Olympics, Team Elmbrook, Next Step "Press", Greenfield/Franklin Colts, Spring City Special Olympics, Ozaukee Special Olympics, Hartford Special Olympics, New Berlin Special Olympics, Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center, Mukwonago Special Olympics, Team Milwaukee, Kewaskum Special Olympics and Bi County Special Olympics.
"Last year we had an awesome turnout and I think we actually have more athletes this year," Tanner said. "It's just a great event and the athletes are always asking me, `When's the Bucks clinic again?' They want to know as soon it's scheduled what date it is."
Even though it was the Bucks players and coaches teaching the Special Olympians about basketball, the Bucks also learned a thing or two from the athletes before the night was over.
"No matter what, smile," Boykins said. "Whether they made or missed a shot, it didn't matter, they were just having fun.
"This is one of my favorite events because whenever you work with Special Olympians you see the smile that you put on their faces when they make a simple layup, how hard they try and compete and it's always good to put a smile on children's faces."