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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Bill Walton Camp a Success for Inter Tribal Sports and San Diego Surf
by Darren Feeney / KFMB Interactive
Dec 08, 2010
credits: photo by Christine Foster
Nearly 200 kids participated in a youth basketball camp this past weekend at the Pechanga Recreation Center in Temecula, hosted by Inter Tribal Sports (ITS). It's safe to say it wasn't difficult to distinguish the camp's speaker amongst the youth.

Bill Walton, NBA Hall of Famer and three-time College Player of the Year at UCLA, helped inspire and motivate the youth from 12 tribes across Southern California at the inaugural Bill Walton Basketball Camp at Pechanga.

Walton was joined by ABA San Diego Surf head coach Terry Mason and players Aaron Hands and Glen Dandridge, along with several players from the UCSD Men's basketball team.

The theme and take away from this year's camp: There is much more to basketball than competition.

"The game of basketball is so much more than just putting the ball in the hoop," said Walton, who led Helix High School in San Diego to CIF Section titles in 1969 and 1970. "It is more about learning how basketball can be lifestyle, how to compete and make choices, and realizing it's not how good you are; it's how good your team is."

The kids couldn't ask for a better venue to learn in than the Pechanga Recreation Center. The state-of-the art facility built in 2009 is also a site the Los Angeles Lakers have been known to practice.

As much fun as the camp was for the kids, it was equally as joyful for the big guys.

"It's good to get down to this level working with kids who are learning the game of basketball," said Surf coach Terry Mason. "When you got these young minds out here, it's pure basketball."

Both Dandridge and Hands sat in on the morning meeting held by Walton, where he went over Coach John Wooden's philosophies and the Pyramid of Success.

"Bill had the pyramid memorized, hands down," said Dandridge. "He inspired and motivated me—I was ready to get out there and do some drills."

Hands mentioned the benefits he has noticed from teaching the game of basketball.

"The whole mental part of the game came full circle for me after teaching what I had been taught my whole life," Hands said. "After teaching the footwork and teaching the fundamentals, it makes you a much better basketball player."

Bill's son, Luke, a player for the Lakers, is a perfect example.

"Bill used to teach him everything and Luke would come and teach me how to play. Luke is the great mental basketball player that is because he knows the game from both aspects."

The camp is a sign of many great things to come for ITS Program Manager Gene Dixon, Director Ben Foster, and Walton.

On February 13, ITS and Walton will be sending kids to Pauley Pavilion to watch Oregon State take on UCLA. On the Beavers Roster is Joe Burton, the first Native American to receive a men's basketball scholarship in Pac-10 history.

" I know very well how many people have sacrificed for me, and now it is my turn," said Walton "When people are generous and sacrifice so much for you, your life is never the same. To see these children having the time of their life, with all of the great sponsors and people who are donating their time—it truly is a team coming together."

"We're the lucky ones."

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