The All Pro Sports Shabazz Napier Camp was in full force on July 28. Napier hosted the camp and taught fundamentals of basketball to youth.
"I'm letting them know this is basketball and it's made to be fun," said Napier. "Later on in life they'll understand it's more about business, but right now it's just for fun."
"The camp was sponsored by the South Windsor Parks and Recreation in conjunction with All Pro Sports of Windsor Locks. It was open to boys and girls ages 8 to 16. About 100 participants attended the weeklong camp at Nomad's Adventure Quest's basketball gym. The campers participated in several morning stations separated by age, lectures, drills, and games throughout the day.
Director of Recreation Ray Favreau put his full trust in Tim Leahy, Owner of All Pro Sports, and Napier. "I just pop in to see how it's going," said Favreau.
"We've been doing camps for about nine years will all the great UCONN players – Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and many years with Kevin Ollie when he was in the NBA," said Leahy. He added that Napier is "very hands-on" with the camp.
"He plays and jumps around with them. He just doesn't come in here and sit down," said Leahy. "He comes in and does everything with them."
Leahy said Napier's interaction with the campers allowed them to "get to know Shabazz as a person" and not just attend a camp "with his name slapped on it."
All the children in the program and many of the staff have been fans of Napier since he first began playing for UCONN.
"I've always admired his basketball skills," said Justin Eaddy, a staff member who will begin his first year at UCONN in the fall. "I'm a Shabazz fan and will support wherever he goes [in the NBA]."
After the camp, Napier will use the rest of the summer to prepare for his position on the Miami Heat, but he enjoyed his stint as a coach.
"I'm just trying to take it in stride and trying to be a great role model as much as I can on the court and as well as off the court," said the Boston native. "It's a great way to give back to the community and to see kids that get inspired by you," said Napier. "It's cool."
The two-time NCAA champion attended many basketball camps as a child and knows what it takes to make an impact on young lives. "Growing up I was in their position and know the roles are flipped," he said.
"Before they loved him for what he did for UCONN; when they leave here they're going to love him for who he is," said Leahy.