IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- Members of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) 76'ers and Lady 76'ers basketball teams hosted a basketball clinic Feb. 25-29 for students at Bayside Elementary School in Imperial Beach.
During the clinic, sixth-grade students had the opportunity to learn basketball fundamentals from Sailor athletes assigned to Ronald Reagan. Even though Ronald Reagan officially adopted Bayside Elementary School in 2006 and routinely provides tutoring and volunteers, the basketball camp was a first-time event.
"Cmdr. Lee Axtel [ship's chaplain] wanted to do a community relations project for Bayside Elementary," said Cmdr. George Linville, the ship's surgeon aboard Ronald Reagan. "Since I'm the head coach for the 76'ers, I suggested a basketball camp."
According to Linville, the students were very excited to be a part of the basketball camp.
"It was a three-day after school camp, which lasted for two hours each day," said Linville. "We provided an opportunity for student to be exposed to a sport that was unfamiliar to them."
"On the first day of camp everyone was divided into eight teams, each being coached by a member of the Ronald Reagan 76'ers," said Linville. "They drilled on shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding and other fundamentals."
Linville said the excitement continued throughout the week.
"The second day of camp they competed in each of the fundamentals they had learned the previous day," said Linville. "On the last day they learned defense, both man-to-man and zone, and played short games and finally they receive certificates of excellence for participating in the camp."
According to Linville, the basketball camp also brought some much needed sports equipment to the school.
The camp was offered completely free to the students. Retired Vice Adm. Michael Bucchi, a long-time supporter of Ronald Reagan's Religious Ministries Department, donated 10 new basketballs, eight nets and T-shirts for the event.
While the coaches brought knowledge of the game, the students brought an abundance of energy. Bringing both together made for a very successful event, according to Culinary Specialist 3rd Class John Smith.
"All of the kids are energetic," said Smith, member of the Reagan 76'ers. "There are some really talented players and they are very motivated to learn and improve."
Sailors said they enjoyed volunteering for the event.
"I volunteered to help at the kids basketball camp because I love kids, they are the best," said Yeoman Seaman Nicholas James, a point guard for the Reagan 76'ers. "Children always have a way of bring out the inner kid in me."
According to James, the basketball camp was primarily about the fun the kids can have and the positive message they take with them.
"Programs like this really show the kids you care," said James. "I think it also shows the kids how important it is to get out and run and jump. It also promotes keeping in shape, out of trouble and helps direct them towards doing positive things with their lives."
Thanks to the members of the Reagan 76'ers and Lady 76'ers, students at Bayside Elementary School will be better prepared for the seventh-grade junior high basketball season next year.
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.