Fort Riley, Kansas



‘Hoops for Troops’ makes slam dunk at Fort Riley

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | November 17, 2017

     The Oklahoma City Youth basketball program brought a “Hoops for Troops“ basketball Clinic to the Directorate of Family Morale Wellness and Recreation’s Custer Hill Youth Center Nov. 7.

     The free event was open to 45 youth in the Fort Riley community to help them develop fundamental skills and build character values in a team environment.

     Chris Mullins, recreation­al programmer and assistant director for DFMWR’s Child and Youth Services, said the kids got excited when they heard about the event.

     “They wanted to learn the basics,” he said “Everything from how to shoot a basketball to teamwork.”

     The event was inspired by the National Basketball Association’s Hoops for Troops week, which occurred at the same time, said Michelle Matthews, OKC Thunder Youth basketball coach.

     The event brought fifth graders up to juniors in high school together under one roof. The level of basketball experience ranged from those who knew very little to those who are playing for their high school team.

     “We have guys that have never played basketball at all,” Mullins said.

     Dwonsano Douglas, son of Sgt. Sierra Douglas 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, signed up for the basketball clinic without knowing a single thing about basketball.

     “He never played basketball but he really wanted too,” Mullins said. “He asked ‘can I go in’ (and I said) yeah of course. He just wanted to try something new.”

     When Douglas was asked how he felt after attending the clinic he smiled and said it felt great.

     “The kids are great,” Matthews said. “The atmosphere is great. And everyone on base were really, really helpful.”

     Matthew said it was important to run a youth basketball program at Fort Riley during Hoops for Troops week because it brings youth together.

     “It means everything,” Matthews said. “We’re so thankful for the support we get from across the region, even outside of Oklahoma. And so it feels good to be able to give back, especially here on base during Hoops for Troop week. So that’s awesome for us.”

     Matthews and a couple of OKC Thunder basketball players taught various drills throughout the program.

     The 45 youth were split up into five teams for the first set of drills. The teams lined up at the edge of the court and waited for Matthews to blow the whistle.

     The drills consisted of dribbling, free-throws, layups and much more. The evening concluded with OKC Thunder give-a-ways.

     After the success of this event, Mullins said he hopes to see more like this one in the future.

     “I would like them to do more with our youth center,” he said.

     Looking ahead, Mullins said he spoke to them about doing the event again next year.