This month, the War Memorial Gym in Wailuku will come alive with the sounds of bouncing basketballs and shouts of encouragement as youth ages 7 to 18 take part in the 9th annual basketballMAUI camp, which runs June 18 through 22.
As the campers dribble, pass and shoot, Realtors® Association of Maui members Lydia Pedro and Alana Rucynski of Wailea Realty Corp. will be cheering them on from the sidelines. Both serve on basketballMAUI’s board of directors.
basketballMAUI is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the character and basketball fundamentals development of Maui youth through the game of basketball, as well as the growth and development of the sport throughout the state. Every year, thousands of public and private school students participate in basketballMAUI’s summer camps, clinics and school assemblies, which are focused on basketball skills, training and athletic, character and leadership development.
Both Pedro and Rucynski have been involved with the organization since its inception in 2010, and both say they were inspired to join the basketballMAUI team by its founder, Ben Prangnell. “He just has a way of getting people involved,” Rucynski said. “His passion and excitement for kids and how we can help teach them in this ‘game of life’ is contagious.”
Prangnell created basketballMAUI with the mission to impact lives beyond the basketball court. Clearly, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds since then. “As we look forward to our 9th annual basketballMAUI camp, we are excited to host professional athletes, coaches and volunteers who have come to invest in Maui’s youth,” he said. From our inception, we made the decision that no child would be excluded from our programs for lack of financial resources. Over 800 youth have been able to attend our weeklong camp on full scholarship since our first camp.”
Former and active college basketball players and coaches of all stripes (including NCAA Division I coaches) will guide campers through position-specific training, personal training, life skills development and challenge groups, placing an emphasis on enthusiasm, leadership and teamwork. There are four focus areas: individual offense, defense, shooting and team skills. Campers are separated into teaching groups; training is based on age and ability.
“It’s amazing what you can teach a child when you are holding a basketball in your hand,” Prangnell said. “basketballMAUI’s mission is to inspire and equip youth. We believe the most important lessons for life can be taught and encouraged through sports. Teamwork, commitment, tenacity, hard work, choosing a positive mental attitude, and most importantly, faith is what we strive to teach.”
Pedro has witnessed the magic of basketballMAUI firsthand. “The kids get so much out of this experience,” she said. And it’s not just about shooting free throws or hustling down the court. “They also connect with the coaches and develop friendships with kids from different schools and backgrounds,” Pedro said. That’s one of the many reasons why no camper is ever turned away due to financial need. “No one is left behind,” she said. “If a kid wants to come, we will make it happen.”
Like Pedro, Rucynski has seen the positive impact of basketballMAUI and encourages others to support the organization in any way they can. “So many families have been blessed by this organization,” she said.
Prangnell is quick to point out that basketballMAUI is a team effort. “I can’t express enough gratitude to our board of directors on which Lydia Pedro and Alana Rucynski serve and our volunteers who give selflessly to see our Maui youth impacted,” he said. “And to the professional athletes, coaches, trainers who donate their time to provide world-class instruction and the businesses, sponsors and donors—we could not provide these opportunities without them. Finally, to our campers and parents who partner with us knowing our work is bigger than basketball.”
Registration for the 9th annual basketballMAUI camp is underway. There is no registration deadline, but early sign-up is encouraged. Scholarships are also available. Campers will receive a basketball, t-shirt, camp workbook and group photo. For more information about the basketballMAUI camp June 18 through 22 at the War Memorial Gym, visit www.basketballmaui.com. To inquire about sponsorship or donor opportunities, email Pedro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – June 2, 2018