NBA All Star weekend bring the stars to Toronto schools

  • February 12, 2016

TORONTO - Toronto schools got to join in on the NBA All-Star excitement through the National Basketball Association's FIT program to promote fitness and healthy living among youth.

On Feb. 11, current and former NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League players visited five Toronto Catholic schools and five Toronto public schools to lead basketball and fitness clinics. Students had the opportunity to learn fundamental skills as well as core values of the game from the professionals themselves.

St. Joseph's College School gym was buzzing with excitement as the girls' basketball team joined with NBA great Dikembe Mutombo to run the FIT clinic. The team has been anticipating the day all week.

"I was kind of shocked and I'm pretty sure everybody else was, too. I was pretty anxious for the day to come," said Kim Soriano, a Grade 10 student at St. Joseph's. "It's pretty exciting, to be honest, to have all these good NBA players coming to our city."

The gym erupted in applause as eight-time NBA All-Star Mutombo ran in giving students high fives.

"We are doing these 10 events today," said Mutombo. "I'm also happy to be one of the people that will teach you how to dunk today, how to block shots, how to dribble and how to crossover. We're going to have fun today."

Mutombo is a former Houston Rocket (retired in 2009) who was one of the best defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award four times. In addition to his work with NBA FIT, he is also known for his humanitarian work with the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

FIT program clinician Kita Matungulu from NBA Africa organized six drill stations the St Joseph's girls' basketball team were leading.

Mutombo travelled through each of the six stations, coaching the Grades 6 and 7 girls through dribbling, passing, blocking, layups and agility drills. The 7-foot-2 player laughed as he stretched his arm up above his head to give the girls congratulatory high fives for a job well done at the end of the day.

St. Joseph's principal Helen Lesniak said it is very exciting to have the school be a part of this NBA event, part of the NBA All Star festivities taking place in Toronto, and to watch the team interact with with the elementary school girls.

"I think it's really important because they kind of look up to the high schools," said Lesniak. "They want to feel that they can be a part of the high school for the day."

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