By Kate Bauer
Organizations all over Whitmore Lake recently came together to introduce a new basketball camp that is completely free for children in Whitmore Lake and the surrounding areas. Thanks to Team Alliance Plastics’ (TAP), Whitmore Lake Community Recreation (WLCR) and the Michigan Pond Hockey Sports Charities, boys and girls in grades third-eighth, who aren’t heading on vacation for spring break, get to learn about basketball instead of staying home.
The camp will be held on April 4th-7th and is limited to the first 80 participants registered. Participants will receive a basketball and t-shirt at no extra cost as part of the camp. The three sponsors’ main goal was to not let financial limitations affect a student’s ability to participate in the camp.
A main sponsor, TAP, was founded in 2000 by owner and operator Mike Cohen. Cohen, a lifelong player on the court, played basketball for Iowa State University and continued to put his hard work and dedication into the sport for the rest of his life.
TAP’s goal is to promote youth development through basketball. With his success in the business world, Cohen achieved this by generously funding basketball camps all over Michigan until losing a long battle with brain cancer in April, 2012.
In his memory, Cohen’s brother, Sheldon, and son, Matt, have continued to fund and provide basketball camps across Michigan. The two already have a couple spring break camps in the works and plan to have many more in the coming years along with the WLCR camp being one of the newest additions.
At the center of bringing the camp to Whitmore Lake is WLPS Recreation and Athletic Coordinator, Brad McCormack. McCormack met Cohen a number of years before he passed away. Cohen quickly became one of McCormack’s biggest inspirations. His constant devotion and passion towards getting kids involved in sports was something McCormack admired.
“He was one of the toughest guys I knew, always pushing kids to their limits. But despite all of the long hours of practicing and yelling, Cohen was the nicest guy I’ve ever known,” McCormack said.
With the mission of providing families with financial assistance to help their children participate in youth athletic programs, when McCormack approached Sam Iaquinto, president of the Michigan Pond Hockey Charities (MPHC), with Cohen’s story and the goal of bringing another camp to Whitmore, helping make that possible was a no-brainer.
“We are blessed to have the funding in place to be able to support a program such as this that will positively impact up to 80 kids, helping instill in them the values that come from being involved in sports such as teamwork and good sportsmanship along with the basics of basketball,” Iaquinto said.
WLCR Maria Carter-Ewald, is grateful so many organizations teamed together to not only honor a man who would support the mission of organizations like WLCR, but to provide a free program like this for the children in the Whitmore Lake community.
“We are excited about bringing this fun, safe and enriching camp to Whitmore Lake. And even more excited it is at no cost, considering we are targeting those who might not have the luxury or financial means to go away on vacation for Spring Break or participate in programs like this year-round” Carter-Ewald said.
Former Whitmore Lake High School alumni Gunner McGibbon will head up the camp. McGibbon graduated in 2014 and was a member of the high school basketball team all four years. McGibbon, as well as other coaching staff, will focus on teaching the fundamentals, teamwork, sportsmanship and most importantly, fun. Always leading his former teammates to do their best, McGibbon is a prime candidate to be in charge of this camp for children within the Whitmore Lake community and beyond.
The WLCR department of Whitmore Lake Public Schools would like to thank TAP and the Michigan Pond Hockey Sports Charities for their generous support. The deadline for registration is March 25 or until filled. For more information, please contact Brad.McCormack@wlps.net. To enroll, click here: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/WhitmoreLakeCommunityRecreation#/selectSessions/1330303 and click on Community Recreation for the link to register online or register over the phone at 734.449.4461 x3057.
For more information on the Michigan Pond Hockey Sports Charities, check out their website here: http://www.michiganpondhockey.com/