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Chaps basketball team hosts camp for the deaf

Chaps basketball team hosts camp for the deaf

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Oscar LeRoy

Midland Reporter-Telegram

ODESSA — Thursday’s basketball camp with the Region Day School Program for
the Deaf was a way not only for the Midland College men’s basketball team to
get together one last time but also do something good for the community.

And by all indications it was a good time had by all.

“We know we’re putting smiles on kids’ faces, and that’s all we want,” said
Midland College freshmen guard Bobby Hatchett. “We don’t need any money or
anything else. It’s just fun being here.”

The camp held at Sanderson Elementary’s gymnasium hosted 30 kids who are
deaf or hard of hearing. It was a free camp for all kids at the school and
sponsors helped out in paying for the T-shirts. They ran drills with the
Midland College basketball players and coaches, learned the fundamentals and
saw the Chaparrals display some of their skills.

“I like it because I can play basketball,” said 9-year-old Oscar Gonzalez.
“I learned to do everything today.”

The camp featured some kids who had never even played basketball before. For
others, it was an opportunity to learn from some talented individuals.

“I would do it again,” said 18-year-old Mark Laritta, who will graduate from
the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. “I’m not really an expert in
basketball and because they are professionals to me, I listened to what
they have to say.”

The camp was the brainchild of Ashley Braeuer, who is the wife of first year
MC men’s basketball assistant coach Matt Braeuer and a speech pathologist at
the school. She said they first held a camp with kids who are deaf or hard
of hearing at Wichita State University in 2007 when she was an student and
Matt was playing for the Shockers. Braeuer said that camp had about 25 kids
from all around the state of Kansas.

“We kind of had a good idea of how to organize it, and it was lot easier to
do it this year,” she said.

“We’re very grateful for Midland College, the players, coaches and (athletic
director) Forrest Allen who came out, as well as all the teachers from the
Regional School for the Deaf who are volunteering their time to make it all
come together.”

Second-year Midland College men’s basketball head coach Ross Hodge said his
program has never been a part of a camp like this but wouldn’t mind doing it
on a regular basis.

“I think anytime you get an opportunity to give back to the community, it’s
exciting especially for our guys,” Hodge said. “It’s not so much that the
kids are the ones who have the fun experience and have a great time and
maybe remember it for the rest of their lives, but I think our guys get the
opportunity to experience that as well and it’s special.”

Hodge added that the camp was also a nice break from his and his team’s
everyday life. Currently the Chaparrals are focusing on their academics, the
sophomores are deciding on their futures, the freshmen are working hard in
offseason conditioning and the coaches are looking for talent to fill next
year’s roster. But being around these kids, makes everything they do on an
everyday basis seem mundane.

“I think it’s an eye-opening experience,” Hodge said. “Things that all of us
may take for granted or the little things that we complain about, and then
you get an opportunity to be around special kids like this, I think it puts
it all in perspective.”

For sophomore guard Dwayne Davis, this was a day he won’t soon forget.

“I had fun with the kids and I think all the guys really enjoyed being here
today,” Davis said. “I take a lot out of it. I have a 2-year-old son and to
work with special children, it’s a nice experience.”

Braeuer said that as long as she and her husband are in Midland, they will
try to hold a camp around this time of year.

“It was stressful organizing it and planning it, but it turned out perfect,”
she said. “It was awesome for the players and for the community. It was also
great for the kids. Their eyes just lit up when the players came in.”

Oscar LeRoy can be reached at [email protected]



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