Nett, Pohnpei - Saying that there are many "bad models of character in professional sports", Dr. Dick Dankworth who alternately resides in Reno, Nevada and Kona, Hawaii is serious about character development for young people. Perhaps one might think that he would be most passionate about basketball since that is the reason "Youth Team Sports" is coming first to Chuuk and then to Pohnpei in mid June.
The organization which is closely associated with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and the University of the Nations will conduct a coaching clinic for national players June 11-13 in Chuuk and again in Pohnpei June 18-20. Each of the coaching clinics will be followed by a youth basketball camp. Chuuk is scheduled for June 14- 16 and Pohnpei, June 21-23. The Basketball camp will be open to boys and girls from 8-17 years of age. The sessions will be divided for those participants 8 to 12 years of age and those who are 13-17 years old.
This will be the organization's third trip to the Pacific region for basketball clinics. They conducted basketball clinics in Palau two years ago and Saipan last year. Each youth camp was attended by approximately 200 young people.
This year is FSM's turn at the invitation of Benjamin Peterson, President of the Pohnpei Basketball Association at the recommendation of Clark Graham in Chuuk who is the secretary for the FSM Basketball Association.
Perhaps the direction of a clinic by a Christian organization might suggest the idea that the clinic might be light on basketball and heavy on devotions and sermons, perhaps a bit of "Kumba Yah", but that's not what is being planned and has not been the experience of participants in the past.
Participants in the clinic will definitely be taught tactics and technique. The people involved in directing the clinics have professional experience in sports and coaching. Dr. Dankworth said that the clinic will teach the "fundamental strategies" of basketball. A news article from Saipan a year ago released after the group did a clinic there mentioned basketball fundamentals at the forefront and subjugated character building to an "also ran" position in the article. Dr. Dankworth said that "Youth Team Sports"" began three years ago. His then apparently healthy 14 year old grandson, Graham suffered a cardiac arrest with no warning. He lingered for several days before he died. Dankworth said that his grandson was very popular and his friends crowded the hospital not just for one day but every day Graham was in the hospital.
The interaction with the young people made him think of the days that he was the Athletic Director at the University of Nevada at Reno. As he reflected on the experience of the loss of his grandchild he remembered the connections he made with the student athletes at UNR, and more particularly, the connections the athletes, some of whom still phone him, made with him.
Dankwood, who attained a PhD at Stanford University, is now in university administration. He and three other men started talking and formed "Youth Team Sports" partly as a result of Dankwood's experience with his grandson's friends. The organizers believe that young people "want to be as good as they can be" at whatever they do whether it be basketball or character development. "Youth Team Sports"" would like to see young people pursue both sports and character. Dankwood said at a Rotary Club of Pohnpei presentation on March 22, that "the future of any nation depends upon the character of the youth…we feel we can bring some influence in this way." He said that participation in sports is a good way to teach character since the true test of character comes when the pressure is on.
Local organizers jokingly asked if Dankworth might be able to bring one particular NBA media darling to the clinic. He said that even if that player would agree to come he would never consider it. He said, "Wealth and attention forces people sometimes to say, 'I can do whatever I want.'" That's not the image that "Youth Team Sports"" wants to convey.
David Wood who played professional basketball for many years was one of the founding organizers and will be one of the coaches at the clinics. Wood played for Skagit Valley College (NCJAA), the University of Nevada at Reno (NCAA). He was a second round draft pick in his senior year to the Continental Basketball Association (see inset) in 1987. He played for the Rockford Lightning and the Yakima Sun Kings in that league. Andrew Golding said that in the NBA, "Wood was known for his scrappy, physical style of play, and frequent altercations with opposing players, most often Charles Barkley."
Wood played for the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, the Detroit Pistons, the Golden State Warriors, the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Milwaukee Bucks. He also played for professional teams in Spain, Italy, and France. He will be accompanied by his three daughters.
Veteran Baseballer, Dan Dix and former University of Nevada coach Mike Brown, who are cofounders of the program will also be a part of the clinics. The organization consists of unpaid volunteers and only asks of the organizers that they provide them a place to stay and food to eat while they are here.
The organization will be bringing basketballs, t-shirts, and playbooks along with their wealth of experience.
The CBA (Continental Basketball Association) is a professional minor league basketball association that claims to be the oldest professional basketball league in the world, established in Pennsylvania in April 1946. The NBA (National Basketball Association) which was formerly the Basketball Association of America also began in 1946 but three months later in the month of June.