Behind the Scenes at the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy

Kobe & Gary KavyGary Kavy (SMBA ’15) recently returned from Santa Barbara where he had the opportunity to work at this year’s Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy.

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I was able to get involved with the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy in 2011 when I was working on my undergrad at UC Santa Barbara, where Kobe Bryant has held his annual basketball academy since 2010. The camp is a five days long for over 700 basketball players ranging from eight to eighteen years-old who traveled from all over the world to learn basketball fundamentals, sportsmanship and teamwork.  This year, roughly 110 of the campers were from different international groups – China, Taiwan, Lebanon, Turkey and Italy.

On day one, the campers settled in and reported to their teams. The players were split up into six different leagues based on their age, and from there they were randomly placed in the ten teams within that league. A one hour basketball skill evaluation was held so that coaches could make a few adjustments, including placing players in the leagues that best suited their skill level. On day two, the players got their team pictures with Kobe and went through various drills and basketball activities. Days three and four consisted of more drills and games against other teams in their league, the semifinals of the final four playoffs for each of the leagues, as well as a pickup game between some of the very talented and athletic camp coaches (including the legendary 5’ 9” Bracin Walker AKA Red Bull who at the 2011 camp dunked over a bike). The final day, day five, consisted of the championship games as well as each camper receiving a personal Kobe Bryant autograph on whatever item they brought to the autograph session.

As you can see, it’s not his camp in name alone, Kobe Bryant remains hands-on each and every day. Between the pictures and autographs each camper gets, the question and answer session he hosts where the kids ask him their questions, the private question and answer he hosts for the parents, his teaching various basketball and life lessons in his speech to the campers, and his interacting with and close-up view of the campers’ games, Kobe stays very involved.

As for my involvement with the camp, I served as an intern for the camp for my first two years and was able to work my way up to a position on the administrative staff where I have worked the most recent two years. This year my responsibilities included being the main contact point for all of the international groups and their chaperons, handling housing related requests for the 100+ staff members, developing and maintaining the 60 team rosters for the 720 campers, and providing assistance to the camp directors when needed. As it has been each of my four years there, the camp was a great experience and an incredible networking opportunity. I definitely look forward to Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy 2015!

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