It was three years ago, when a fellow named Ron Lagman asked Julius David if he could run a basketball clinic with the Filipino community in mind.
“Filipinos love basketball,” David said.
It was the birth of Hoopsville Cares, a basketball teaching non-profit organization, run solely on charitable contributions.
“Ron was able to get some sponsors, but whatever else we get, it comes from donations,” said David, a long-time youth basketball coach and currently the freshman coach at St. Anthony High School. “We started out with 10 or 15 kids.”
This year, more than 65 youngsters, ages 7 through 13, went to the METS Charter School in Jersey City every Saturday and Sunday from July 6 through last week.
They learned all aspects of the game of basketball while learning also about hard work, integrity, leadership, honesty, education, sportsmanship and dedication.
Last Sunday, the youngsters were given a treat, as Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthony gave a guest lecture. Hurley commanded the kids’ attention and by the end of the hour-long session, he had the kids eating out of his hands.
All summer long, Hurley has been traveling, coaching and organizing at camps and clinics. He had just returned from the Pennsylvania Poconos the night before, where he conducted a camp strictly for young girls, to make it back to his native Jersey City to give the lecture.
“I do six weeks of camp during the summer and I do maybe two or three lectures a week,” Hurley said. “I guess I’ve been with about 7,500 kids throughout the course of the summer.”
Hurley was asked if it ever gets tiring.
“This is all I do now,” Hurley said. “My life is all basketball. I still love going into a gym and doing things off the top of my head. I have to remember the ages of the kids as I do it.”
Some of the youngsters didn’t know who Hurley was. One asked, “Who are you?”
“Who am I? I’m the guy whose picture is on the wall over there,” Hurley said, pointing to a giant banner honoring Hurley for winning the 1,000th game of his coaching career last year.
But there were others who were in awe of Hurley.
“It’s amazing to be with a Hall of Fame coach,” said Julius David Jr., the camp director’s 12-year-old son, who Hurley used in a lot of his demonstrations. “It’s fun to learn from him.”
David, Jr. was asked if it was a little stressful being the center of the camp’s attention.
“Somewhat, because I was afraid that I might mess up,” the younger David laughed.
Jonas Belmonte is another 12-year-old from Jersey City who was in awe of Hurley.
“It makes me feel special,” Belmonte said. “He’s a Hall of Famer, a great coach. I knew a lot about him and I learned a lot today from him. I’m going to continue to get better as a player.”
Jared Ammugauan, another 12-year-old from Jersey City, said that he learned a lot about ball handling and shooting.
“It’s a really good thing for me,” Ammugauan said. “It’s only going to help me.”
Hurley tried to use references that his audience might understand, like mentioning boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is from the Philippines.
“The Filipino kids are terrific because they love basketball,” Hurley said. “It’s huge in the Philippines. There’s so much diversity in Jersey City these days. You never can expect to see one group.”
The elder David was excited to see just how much his camp has grown.
“It’s way better than I could have expected,” David said. “It was a good turnout. Instead of being on a beach or playing video games, these kids wanted to learn about basketball. They’re dribbling and shooting. I’m very excited. I don’t think it can get any better than this. Coach Hurley has a lot of drills to keep the kids interested.”
Hurley’s ball handling drills have been used at his camps for almost 40 years.
“When you have really young kids, you have to make an effort,” Hurley said. “It’s the challenge of teaching that keeps you sharp. I’m running camps all summer, so I’m able to do new things there. I’m not trying to re-invent myself. It was different and fun. You could feel the energy, the basketballs bouncing in the building. It’s all part of the learning and I really enjoyed doing it.”
David was in awe of Hurley’s presence.
“He taught the kids things that they could do without having a hoop at home,” David said. “They can do the drills in their basements, in their backyard, in the driveway. The kids all had fun with it. It was awesome to see. When you have younger kids like this, they represent the future of the sport.”…
Scary scene on the campus of St. Peter’s University Monday, as new head baseball coach Sean Cashman was shot in the leg in an apparent robbery attempt in the Yanitelli Center parking deck.
The 25-year-old Cashman was treated and released from Jersey City Medical Center soon after the shooting, which took place at approximately 9:40 a.m. Jersey City Police is looking for two suspects in the shooting. A SPU public safety officer was first on the scene and provided emergency medical attention to Cashman, helping to save his life.
What makes the scene more frightening is that it happened in the morning, in broad daylight. One can only imagine the scene if classes were still in session.
Anyway, a friend and colleague of Cashman’s at SPU said Tuesday that he spoke to the coach and appeared to be in good spirits. It could have been far worse…
The 10th annual Weehawken Open charity golf tournament was held last week and the team of Eric Nicely, John Helmsdoerfer, Kristen Helmsdoerfer and Jordan Hildebrandt finished first at 13 under par. More than 90 golfers participated, with all the proceeds going to help the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad. It’s amazing how much that tournament has grown over the years…
St. Peter’s Prep standout running back Jonathan Hilliman will announce this weekend whether he will attend Rutgers or Ohio State next fall….—Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.