DA Basketball Clinics

October 14, 2020

Juniors Akshaan Ahuja and Dhruv Bhagavatula know firsthand how quarantine is affecting young athletes. As they watched their younger brothers beg to leave the house and play basketball again, Akshaan and Dhruv realized they had to do something to help. In July, they started DA Basketball Clinics to give young kids a classic camp experience, an opportunity to connect with friends and get a little bit of fresh air. 

Akshaan has been playing basketball since he was six, and Dhruv since he was seven. They’ve bonded over their passion for the sport in sixth grade when they were both on the All-Star team for the National Junior Basketball League, and now they play for the JV basketball team at LAHS.

They had been considering making a basketball clinic for several years, but it never seemed like the right time. This July, they were presented with the perfect opportunity. When most camps were canceled due to COVID-19, DA Basketball Clinics provided young kids with fun, socially distanced drills and games.

“They’re not used to standing six feet apart and not being able to play games they want to play,” Akshaan said. “For me, it’s just about compromise. How can we minimize proximity to each other as much as possible, while still giving these kids the fun time they want and deserve?” 

Instructors coach first- through third-graders, and each hour-long session costs $15. Though there are 20 kids overall, the sessions consist of eight to nine players to adhere to safety guidelines. Practices are usually held on Wednesdays and over the weekend.

A typical practice begins with a warm-up jog and some stretches. Then the kids move onto drills — dribbling, ball handling and shooting — staying six feet apart at all times. The practice usually ends with a small scrimmage where, in an effort to minimize contact, kids are paired up and only interact with their partner during the game.

Despite these restrictions, Dhruv and Akshaan try to make the clinic as enjoyable as possible, including offering sugary bribes to the young athletes. Akshaan’s favorite memory began when one of their players, who had never touched a basketball before, was struggling to make a shot. After Akshaan promised to buy a pack of gummy bears as a reward, the boy made the next three shots easily.

Though the money is currently going to their savings, Dhruv and Akshaan hope to donate some of the funds they raise to causes like firefighter relief or racial justice programs. In the future, they want to expand their program to include kids from different areas. 

“I think the main goal is to focus on the environment, and provide the opportunity for them to get out and exercise in a structured and regulated environment that is still safe for them,” DA Basketball Clinics coach junior Nikhil Pillai said. “It gives kids the opportunity to enjoy basketball and see how fun it can be. It encourages them to continue with it in the future as they grow older.”

For more information on DA Basketball Clinics, email [email protected]

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