Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Preschoolers learn basketball basics at Veterans Memorial Park

HUDSON — It's March Madness at Veterans Memorial Park, though not the college hoops kind.

Pint-size players are learning the basics of dribbling, passing and shooting at weekly Bumblebee Basketball sessions for kids ages 3 to 5. The class is set up as a series of stations throughout the gym where kids work on different skills. On one end, kids dribble through cones or learn to throw a bounce pass, and on the other end, they are shooting and playing games.

Organizer Ruth Ann Collins helps with instruction, but leaves much of the coaching up to the parents.

"The parents love it," Collins said. "There isn't much in the way of sports programs offered for kids this age, so what makes this intriguing is the parents get a taste of what it's going to be like when they put their child in a league. They've got to be committed and patient; and for the kids, having their parents teach them makes this a very comfortable situation."

This week's session was packed with more than two dozen kids and parents working on basketball basics. Collins, who developed a popular Bumblebee Soccer program last year, added basketball this year to supplement the effort.

"I couldn't do soccer all year round," she said. "Basketball was a perfect option that we could do in the gym.

"This is noncompetitive and set up just so they learn the skills of the game," she continued. "I don't want it to be stressful; they'll have plenty of time later in life to be competitive. This is just so they learn to love the game and when they go into a league at a later age they don't feel like they don't know what they're doing."

To help control the crowded gymnasium, Collins recruited the help of Rommel Walsh and his stepson, Giovanni Charles. While Charles demonstrates what the kids are supposed to do at each station, Walsh breaks it down for both the kids and the accompanying parents.

"We have it organized with them working on basic little things," Walsh said. "The biggest thing I want them to get out of it is a sense of teamwork and just knowing that there is someone else next to you doing what you're doing. They really don't grasp the fundamentals all that well at this age, so it's more about them playing together and developing a sense of camaraderie."

Walsh is a coach at the Salvation Army and a longtime basketball enthusiast. Bumblebee Basketball is his first time working with a group this size — a formidable task he finds challenging.

"I've worked with kids since I was 19, just never with a group this size," he said. "It's cool, though. They listen and you get to see them learning all the time. My 4-year-old son, Dominic, is in the class, so I'm volunteering and working with him at the same time."

While Collins' focus is on helping the kids have fun, skill building is a crucial element of what makes the program successful. Jaclyn Mello of Hudson has enjoyed seeing what her 5-year-old son, Anthony, can do.

"He's surprised me because I didn't know he was this athletic," she said. "I love it because I get to be with him while he has fun and he learns some new skills while he's in here. It's worth the $10 for sure."


Basketball lessons

The Bumblebee Basketball sessions take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at Veterans Memorial Park, 14333 Hicks Road. The classes are open to ages 3 to 5 and the cost is $10. For information, call (727) 861-3033.

Preschoolers learn basketball basics at Veterans Memorial Park 03/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 9:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Next up in Bucs renovations? A $20 million indoor practice facility


    Renderings of the Bucs' new indoor practice facility (Courtesy of the Bucs)
  2. Want to feel old? It's been 20 years since the first 'Harry Potter' was published


    He was so cute: Blond hair, blue eyes and a killer smile. He was dressed in a black robe with a fake scar on his forehead and regaling our fifth-grade class with his book report on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As a 10-year-old with only the most sophisticated of tastes (give me a Baby-Sitters Club any day), …

    An auctioneer holds a first edition copy of the first Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" containing annotations and illustrations by author J.K. Rowling. The tale has turned 20,  published in Britain on June 26, 1997. Since then, it has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. (Associated Press [2013])
  3. Dunedin selects Jennifer Bramley as its next city manager

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN — In a unanimous vote Monday, the City Commission chose Jennifer Bramley as the next city manager.

    Jennifer Bramley, 52, was selected Monday as Dunedin's new city manager. She currently works as deputy city manager for the city of Coral Springs. [Photo courtesy of Jennifer Bramley]
  4. People leave the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, as justices issued their final rulings for the term. The high court is letting a limited version of the Trump administration ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect, a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency. [AP photo]
  5. Florida congressmen: Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse herself for Trump 'bias'


    WASHINGTON - Seven Florida Republican House members are calling for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from the upcoming deliberation on the travel ban, …