Two Fridays ago, the campers of MVP Basketball Camps were fortunate enough to have a living legend in Allan Houston, the former NBA All-Star and current Assistant GM of the Knicks, come and run basketball drills with them. While the exercises implored the fundamentals of the game (shooting, rebounding, dribbling, etc.) they all had a slight moral twist, to which Houston referred after the presentation. “For me, it’s all about teaching life principles that the children can carry on with for the rest of their lives,” said Houston. Running through his annual F.I.S.L.L (Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership, and Legacy) Houston adds a moral lesson in each drill. Whether it’s closing your eyes when shooting for Faith, or attempting to keep the exact same form with every shot for Integrity, Houston infuse ethics with each dribble. While these ideas are great for the children, this isn’t the first time good morals have been pushed at the MVP Basketball Camp.
Since 1995, MVP Basketball Camp has been serving the county as the area’s premier basketball camp, but the camp does more than just perfect your child’s jump shot. Standing for Most Valuable Person rather than Player, the camps, based in White Plains, have “taught” 20,000 campers how to become outstanding individuals through playing basketball. Along with counselors who really care about the children’s development, the camp features a diverse mix of demographics, with campers hailing from places ranging from Mount Vernon to Scarsdale. This melting-pot of campers is a great opportunity for children from drastically disparate areas to mingle and interact. This effect comes from the camp’s unique scholarship program, which has sponsored nearly 25% of the campers since its conception. The children in the scholarship program typically come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, but in order to receive the scholarship, the campers must apply and complete an essay on leadership. At nearly every turn, you’ll find that MVP Basketball Camp relates back to its deep-rooted foundation of good morals.
This philosophical foundation can be traced back to founder Stanley D. Greene who wanted to create Westchester’s first non-profit basketball camp. The camp’s now run by Executive Director Noel Muyskens and Camp Director John Nemsick, but Greene’s son, Andy, is still active in his father’s creation and hopes to carry on his legacy of community commitment. “My father loved the game of basketball all through his life, and thus he wanted to develop a basketball camp environment where any child could attend regardless of social or economic matters,” said Greene as he watched Houston interact with the children.
While upon first glance this camp may seem like a summer basketball camp for children ages six to sixteen, it’s much more than that. With character development on both an individual and societal scale being the primary focus of this organization, MVP Basketball Camp offers its campers an opportunity to break through the typical socioeconomic barriers that plague our county. And this ideal relates directly back to Mr. Allan Houston himself. Though a fantastic player himself, Houston was never a Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, or Magic Johnson. Rather, Houston was a quality player who displayed dedication and hard work in every aspect of the game. Houston carried this work ethic into his post-career endeavors—starting his own charitable foundation, the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. Linking back to the MVP Basketball Camp, what Houston demonstrated to the children is the exact message on which the organization bases itself. While we all can’t be Most Valuable Players of a basketball team, with the right ethics and mindset, we all have the opportunity to become the Most Valuable Persons of our communities.