The basketball camp in Rochester teaches students about sports and life

ROCHESTER, NY – In its 17th year, a Rochester nonprofit is hosting a summer basketball camp for students from more than 60 schools.

But they not only get to know the sport, but also life.

Each summer, Primetime offers a free basketball camp to 585 high school students across Monroe County.

“I absolutely love it,” said Fairport senior Bella Pucci. “It’s great, the environment is always great here. And the competitiveness in all these camps is just amazing.”

It’s Pucci’s first camp, although next year she will be a Division 1 athlete.

“I just love how I can play with so many different people and we all come together,” Pucci said. “And I just enjoy it so much.”

But this camp is about more than just getting fit or learning to dribble.

“There are a lot of kids out here who are struggling,” Primetime 585’s Karen Iglesia said. “It’s a different time for us now, and we have to remember that times are different. And we need to let the kids know we’re here, we’ll put our arms around you, we’re here to support you.”

That’s why the nonprofit brought in NBA coach Rob McClanaghan to talk about his struggles with mental health.

“I really haven’t talked about it,” McClanaghan said. “There was a stigma, especially among men, and especially among men in my line of work, of being ‘alpha’ or ‘strong.’ So I really haven’t talked about it or want to discuss it, which isn’t the way to go.”

He has coached the likes of Kevin Durant and this year’s champion Steph Curry. But a few years ago he tried to take his own life.

“It was a failed attempt, but that didn’t change anything,” McClanaghan said. “It took me another year to actually say, ‘You know what, I need to get help and figure this out.’ Not just for me, but for the people around me.”

He wants kids to know that it’s okay not to be okay.

“To be able to talk about it, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a therapist or anything,” he said. “Just let it go, let your parents know, let a friend know, that’s what’s going on and I need to find out.”

It’s a message that participating students appreciate, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

“People were really hit, and it was just a shock to everyone,” McClanaghan said. “And having this, especially a year after COVID, really helps a lot of people. Especially kids my age and younger.”

Because before you can do well on court, it’s important that you do well off court.

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