Orlando shares its Magic again

This summer, for the fourth consecutive year, the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre will host the annual Orlando Magic Basketball Camp on 23-27 July and big things are expected.

The Magic camp first started in 2009, when the Property Manager for Camana Bay Sports Jeffrey Wight took advantage of his college connections. Attending the University of Central Florida, Wight enrolled at the DeVos Sport Business Management Programme and befriended an eventual employee of the Orlando Magic Basketball Operations Department in Brian Wright.

The DeVos programme taught Wight and Wright how to bring communities together via sports. It expanded on the social impact of sport as well as explaining how sport can influence the world in a positive way. With this knowledge, Brian and Jeff put their heads together to figure out a way they would integrate those same values by using Camana Bay and the Orlando Magic.

The Magic camp has had a very successful stint in Cayman. Among the names that have visited in the past are Nick Anderson, who famously starred against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1995 playoffs as Orlando made its first NBA Finals appearance, and Charles ‘Bo’ Outlaw, who was a notable role player in the late 1990s.

Arguably the biggest name arrived in 2010, when National Basketball Association superstar Vince Carter, a starting shooting guard for the Magic at the time, came down to impart his knowledge and experiences with attendees.

Having a star as big as Carter, a seven-time NBA All-Star and current player for the Dallas Mavericks, added a whole new element to the weekly activities. The atmosphere was terrific and, from first-hand experience, everyone was enjoying every second they had on the court. Vince and the Magic coaching staff entertained kids by the hundreds as people from all over the Island came to see Carter.

The Camana Bay camp has the same expectations for this summer, too. Wight and the Orlando coaching staff have targeted current Magic players for the week-long camp, players such as Ryan Anderson and Jason Richardson are on their radar. Anderson is the league’s most improved player for 2012 while Richardson is an athletic guard. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, it’s a strong possibility that there will be a professional player attending.

The camp is a huge success among kids and adults alike, with Wight saying the questions about the camp never end.

“I’ve had parents e-mail me as early as January about the camp, just so they can plan their summer vacation around it,” Wight said, “There’s already like 20-30 kids who have signed up already, so the spots are being filled pretty quickly.”

The camp has clearly expanded and Wight says word about its great successes and opportunity has gotten out.

“The aim of this camp isn’t winning or losing basketball games, it’s to expose children to high-level coaching, give them a great experience and develop talent as far as the kids want to go.”

The camp has a very high demand and that’s not just on the Cayman Islands. The coaches who are flown down to the camp are privileged too, they’re rewarded with a trip here. The coaches who have the greatest impact around the world while representing the Orlando Magic are rewarded with the prize of an all-expenses-paid trip to coach children here and Wight states it is a very competitive prize.

“This year we’re doing something a little different, as opposed to working with the Cayman Islands Basketball Association like we’ve done in the past, we’re organizing the camp with the Camana Bay Sport and Recreation Department.

“This year, any proceeds or profits we get from sponsorship or registration fees will be donated to Cayman basketball. In essence, the camp will be a fundraiser.”

The Magic camp is a highly anticipated event with kids of all ages invited to come out and play. This year looks to be every bit as exciting as the ones in the past and because of that, the space is filling up quickly.