Former Arkansas Razorbacks player Michael Sanchez taught children basketball fundamentals July 10-12 during the Lonoke Community Center basketball camp.
Former Razorback and Sacramento Kings player Charles Balentine, who grew up with community center director Mike Brown in Newport, also coached at the camp. He started the camp at the center three years ago.
During the camp, Sanchez said he taught the children how to raise their level of competitiveness, to think fast and how to play the fundamentals of the game such as defense, offense, rebounding, passing, communication and leadership.
At the start of the camp, the children weren’t used to being pushed by running full-court drills, but by the end of the week they wanted to be pushed more, he said.
"The main thing [I hoped the children got from camp was] I can be as good as I want to be, if I have discipline, am willing to listen and want to learn and get better and set goals and strive for them," Sanchez said.
He also said no matter the obstacles, in order to find a way to win, they must play more as a team, so they can accomplish more. He said the children don’t have to be the most talented athletes on the floor because fundamentals and discipline can win games.
Kyra Ellison, 12, of Lonoke said she learned a lot during the drills about the elements of basketball such as the figure-eight drill, free throws, defense, offense and one-on-one play.
"[I enjoyed] just being able to learn more fundamentals than before, having a great time and being with people I didn’t know," Ellison said.
Sanchez said he was given the opportunity through Balentine to help at the camp and, just weeks before the camp, Balentine asked him to run the session. He said he wanted to come to share with the children things he has learned in the last four to five years and to share his physical and basketball testimony. He said the Lord has made an impact on his life and motivated him to build a platform for his ministry that uses basketball to bring more people to Christ and make a positive impact on children’s lives.
Since being a Razorbacks player, Sanchez said he was put in the position to coach at the camp and he feels blessed. He said because there are no professional teams in Arkansas, the Razorbacks are the biggest basketball platform.