Hyland Hills Beginner Basketball Camp Says Thanks to
Coach Mike Najera and …
HOORAY for ROCKY!
Every year, Hyland Hills sponsors a beginner’s basketball camp for youngsters between the ages of 5 – 8 years old. This year’s camp, was held the evening of March 27th at Ranum Middle School. The camp was billed as a 2-hour instructional camp where the young participants would be taught some basic dribbling, passing, and shooting skills along with some development techniques.
But this year, Coach Mike Najera had something special in mind. He came to me through the Hyland Hills athletic manager, Chris Robson, and said he had purchased some Denver Nuggets game tickets to use as prizes at the camp, but had been thinking how “cool” it would be to surprise the kids with a visit from the best NBA mascot in the country, ROCKY, nationally known as the agile Denver Nuggets Colorado mountain lion ascot. I must admit I sort of giggled at Mike’s suggestion, thinking “yeah right” because at that time, the Denver Nuggets were having a terrific season and were doggedly headed toward the season playoffs! Uh, Rocky is probably kinda’ busy right now, I thought. Not only that, our not-for-profit basketball camp is for beginners – little tykes, boys and girls – and there would be no big crowds or roaring applause like he’s used to. It would be held in a school gym with a limited number of participants, no media and just a few parents present. Oh, and another thing, we had no money to pay him for the appearance.
Nonetheless, as the communications person for the District, I promised to make the call anyway. To my surprise, a few emails and phone calls later, I had a return call from Rocky’s handler. She said he would be happy to do it, that we could count on him being there, that he would show the children some of his famous moves, and that he would bring autographed photos to give each of them.
On the evening of the camp, just like clockwork and just as promised, Rocky’s signature vehicle pulled into the driveway at the Ranum gym entrance. He entered the gym to a blast of music that he brought with him, and the ROCKY energy in the room shot through the roof. In no time, he showed his moves, and got the big-eyed kids laughing, cheering and dancing. Then, just like that, the camp went back into instructional mode with all the volunteer coaches that had gathered to work with Coach Najera and the kids. Gosh, we appreciate those volunteers.
And what a guy Rocky is, right? The Denver Nuggets have continued their climb through the playoffs and at every game, you will see Rocky doing his thing to large, roaring, appreciative crowds. They scream ROCKY, ROCKY, ROCKY, because he puts on the greatest show – cheering, tumbling, dancing, and sinking those amazing half-court throws. What they don’t know is that, like Coach Najera who volunteers his time and purchases prizes from this own wallet, Rocky is a SUPERSTAR off the court too, when no one is watching. These are two truly fantastic men who can teach us all a lesson or two both on and off the court!