Kids in sneakers flocked to the Mesquite Rec Center to improve their basketball skills last week at a 4-day basketball camp put on by professional athlete Jonathan Loyd. Demand for the camp was high with only 10 spots available in each age group. The grade 7-10 age group started early, running from 7-9 am. The younger 6 to 10-year-old group came later, from 9:30 to 10:30 am.
“Last summer I did a speed and agility camp, but this is the first time I have had access to the Rec Center to do a camp like this,” said Jonathan Loyd.
Loyd grew up in Las Vegas and played basketball at Bishop Gorman High School where his team won a couple of state championships.
“I was blessed,” he said of his high school career.
After high school, Loyd played basketball for the University of Oregon. “I am a Duck at heart,” he said.
Loyd now plays professional basketball in Canada. Last year he played for the Island Storm based in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. He is unsure what professional sports will look like in the coming year because of the worldwide COVID 19 Pandemic.
But Loyd was excited to make an impact on the kids by holding this camp.
“I think these camps help instill a little discipline,” Loyd said. “It helps with following directions. These kids have to be able to be told something and then learn how to apply what they have been told. These are all great life skills. If you are good on the court (discipline) you are going to be good off the court.”
“I just try to help them with their fundamentals and get the basics down and let them create after that,” Loyd added. “There are always little things you can do to get better, there are always little areas in which you can improve.”
The best thing about basketball camp is “the journey,” according to Loyd.
“The journey of seeing yourself improve every single day,” he explained.
“To the kids, the best thing is probably just shooting threes,” Loyd laughs. “The little kids, if they can just work hard and feel like people care about them, then they have fun no matter what.”
Loyd is hopeful that he will be able to open more of these small camp sessions throughout the summer as well as larger basketball camps where he can bring other coaches in to help trains kids. More information about upcoming camp activities will be available at the Mesquite Rec Center.
The kids attending the camp had great things to say about it.
“I learned lots of new things,” said Julia Leavitt age 12. “We worked on our dribbling skills a lot. The last day we played a game and I really liked it.”
Leavitt played for her middle school team last year.
Hayden Owsley age 12 said, “I learned a lot here. I learned about dribbling, like, around the back and under my legs. I got way better at lay ups and jump shots. This really helped me.”
Owsley added that one of the best parts of the camp was being able to scrimmage other people and put her new learned skills to practice.
Rex Leavitt age 10 said, “This camp was really fun. It increased my defense and helped me a lot with my passes too. I definitely want to do this again.”
Loyd was pleased with how the camp went. “I love working with these kids. I love their smiles and their enthusiasm,” he said. “I want the culture of basketball in Mesquite and surrounding areas to thrive. Basketball creates great life skills. If you can learn something valuable through a fun process, why not?”