2007-08-24 / Sports

Basketball Camp,Youth Day Festivities At Arverne Playground

By Elio Velez

On Saturday morning, months of tireless work and organization will come to fruition for Jeff Wilder.

It will be the culmination of Wilder's quest to inform, educate and model for the younger members of the Rockaway community of other ways to make themselves a positive force.

Education, along with the sport of basketball, will be the main features as Wilder and the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation present The Student-Athlete Seminar, as part of day-long festivities to take place at Arverne Playground, located at Beach 54 Street and Arverne Boulevard, starting at 10 a.m.

The basketball camp will teach the expected 50 young players many lessons about the game. The guest speaker is a noted one in the New York City basketball community.

Ron Naclerio, the fiery and passionate head basketball coach at Cardozo High School, who has won 500 games in his career, will give the lessons he has successfully taught to his former players, which include current NBA stars such as Royal Ivey and Rafer Alston.

After the camp is concluded, a youth day will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with music, food, face-painting for youngsters and a talent showcase among some of the events that will take place.

Wilder says that events like this, will showcase that the community can do positive things for the youth.

"We want to put a shine on the good things that are happening," Wilder told The Wave.

The former Beach Channel High School basketball star, who works at the Ocean Bay development, says that he hopes the event will begin to erase the negative image of the neighborhood.

"There are a few bad people here that can perpetuate the fear factor for the neighborhood. The perception is that it's a hotbed of crime but that is not the case," Wilder says.

"It's our hope that we can show that there are good things happening here also."

Basketball is just one option but Wilder says the community must get involved and hopefully they can lead the youth to discover successful options instead of getting into trouble on the streets.

While working at the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation, a not-for-profit program, he's witnessed some success that fuels his fire.

"We have had some tremendous involvement from people. We're trying to change the outcomes by providing employment and internships…" Wilder says.

This program is just one of many that Wilder has assisted in his quest to better the Arverne neighborhood. He's helped to bring in 40 studentathletes from ages 12 to 18 this summer to play in various basketball tournaments this summer with the AAU Elite Warriors basketball program.

His friend Kyle Herd-Correll, the director of the Elite Warriors, has kept the kids busy this summer by playing in high-profile tournaments at 316 Park in Brooklyn and at South Street Seaport.

In the first year of the program, the teams for ages 12 and under, ages 13-15 and ages 16-18 qualified for the playoffs. Though they didn't win any trophies, two members of the team who reside in Rockaway will attend college in the fall.

Earl Anglin, the former Campus Magnet basketball player, will redshirt this year at Marist College in Poughkeepsie and John Robinson will enroll at the Division II program at Vermont Tech College.

Wilder believes it's time for other neighborhoods in the Rockaways to erase their negative image. But it takes a lot of work and the event on Saturday is just one step to make a positive impact.

"The kids have to see that we are dedicated to them," Wilder said.

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