- Former San Francisco 49ers football player Kermit Alexander talks to young people attending La Sierra University's first basketball camp.
July 15, 2011
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Former San Francisco 49ers defensive back Kermit Alexander worked out hard for 15 years while playing football in college and in the National Football League. He did 1,500 pushups and sit ups a day and ran for miles, he said.
It was all part of his commitment to excellence and responsibility, values derived from growing up in a large family where he was the oldest of 14 siblings. “I had to work extra hard to outplay my sisters,” joked Alexander during a motivational talk on July 5 for La Sierra University’s first basketball camp. The three-day event was held July 5, 6, and 7 at La Sierra’s Alumni Pavilion gymnasium.
“I loved sports and I loved my family,” continued Alexander. “…The ability to do well is up to you. The best way to become good at anything is to practice. …In school, your responsibility is to be the best student you can be. It’s up to you.” He admonished his young listeners to practice good citizenship, to do their chores “on time and without being told to. You don’t grow up by yourself. You grow up in a community,” he said.
- La Sierra University Golden Eagles men's basketball Head Coach Derek Robbins gives instruction during basketball camp.
The group of 67 young people, ages eight to 17, sat on the gymnasium floor listening to the former professional ball player, some entertaining dreams of attaining their own sports celebrity one day. They arrived from Riverside, Corona, Hemet and other communities to learn basketball skills for three days from La Sierra’s coaches. The camp was the brainchild of La Sierra Golden Eagles men’s basketball coach Derek Robbins.
“The purpose is to enlighten the students about being good athletes, but also about being good citizens,” Robbins said. “We want to build character in these youngsters.” He plans to hold three basketball camps next summer.
Robbins also brought in La Sierra alum and the university’s leading basketball scorer Justin Norman to talk to the camp attendees. Norman, who teaches physical education and coaches basketball at La Sierra High School, advised his young audience to practice hard at shooting the ball. “If you can shoot the ball, you’ll always have a spot on the team,” he said. Such practice builds confidence, he said. “You never want to step on the floor thinking you can’t make a shot.”
The camp participants practiced various techniques for shooting, making passes and layups and defensive moves. Golden Eagles trainers also talked to the young players about the importance of nutrition.
“[I like] meeting new people and getting a chance to practice, and to know what it’s like to play at a university,” said camp attendee Chris Diz, age 15 when asked what he liked about the three-day event. Diz said he improved on shooting the ball and learned to do layups.
Ethan Guido, age eight, said his group got to shoot the ball frequently, an activity he enjoyed. When asked what he learned, Guido responded that he learned a lot. But some of the details eluded him momentarily. “I learned something yesterday. I just forgot what it was,” said the youngster.
“I like everything they teach us,” said Robert Pine, age 10. “You run and then you stop and jump and shoot it.”
Jadah Anderson, age eight, and Victorie Hughes, age nine, are best friends who do everything together, including basketball camp. The duo learned many lessons during their three-day experience at La Sierra, including the significance of teamwork. “Teams are like your brothers and sisters,” said Anderson. Added best buddy Hughes, “I like being with teams and working together with them.”
Anderson mostly liked playing games of knockout while Hughes enjoyed the overall learning experience. “I like how the coaches try to teach us so we can get better,” she said. As for future plans, Anderson is shooting for the stars. “When I grow up I want to be like [Los Angeles Lakers guard] Kobe Bryant,” she said.
Andrea Mancilla, age 15, said she learned not only the fundamentals, but learned the importance of teamwork. From Alexander’s talk, Mancilla also learned not to give up. “He was telling us how to succeed,” she said, and how to stand out even when you don’t fit in.