Dylan Smith dreams big while he dribbles and shoots hoops at an Orlando Magic basketball camp, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare. The 14-year-old Orlando, Fla. middle schooler is good at math, loves video games and never misses a chance to hit the court.
Dylan believes this camp, which he has attended for six consecutive years, will give him the chance to combine his love of all three as he looks to his future, by getting him closer to a sports scholarship.
“These camps have changed my perspective on what it takes to compete for a college sports scholarship,” said Dylan, who wants to study video game engineering. “The coaches push everyone to their fullest capacity, and you learn that you are better than you thought. Also, sitting around all day is not how you reach goals. You have to keep moving.”
Playing sports is essential to children’s healthy development. It is a great way to exercise, make friends, learn about teamwork and improve self-esteem. But not every child has access to places where they can play. To address this need, and as part of the partnership with the Orlando Magic, UnitedHealthcare provided 50 underprivileged youth with full camp scholarships.
“If I was home, I’d probably be playing video games,” Dylan said. “It’s just too hot to be outside, and there’s really no basketball courts close by. This is such a cool facility to learn and get better at the game. I look forward to this every summer.”
The camps provide expert instruction by professional coaches, game officials, trainers and other professional basketball personnel. Magic players visit some of the camps to meet the young athletes. Each camp session offers personalized attention with a coach, drills, skill development and live games.
“These camps are potentially live changing for our kids,” said Jorge Castro, one of the camp coaches. “For some of them, this kind of training is a dream come true for which they would not have had access without scholarships. The lessons learned here about hard work, teamwork and goal setting will carry them a long way on and off the court.”