People of all ages have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – and in various ways. Los Altos High School juniors Dhruv Bhagavatula and Akshaan Ahuja started DA Basketball Clinics after noticing how much younger kids were struggling with being at home all day.
“I have a brother who is going into third grade, so I saw firsthand the effects this quarantine and this lockdown have had on (younger kids),” Ahuja said. “They’re struggling because it’s something really new to them and they don’t have the mental capacity to cope with it. We thought (our basketball clinic) would be a really good way to get them out of the house, give them exercise, let them run around for an hour or so, while still social distancing and (doing our part) to flatten the curve.”
The clinics, held at Santa Rita School, don’t just benefit the kids, though. Bhagavatula and Ahuja said they had nothing to do over the summer because their jobs at sports camps had been eliminated due to the pandemic, so coaching kids gives them a platform to share their love of the game.
The clinics don’t run like a normal basketball camp would because of the pandemic. Bhagavatula and Ahuja said they take measures to ensure the safety of their students.
In addition to limiting the number of participants to approximately six at a time, all the kids are asked to bring their own basketballs and use the sanitation stations to wipe them down at the end of practice.
“Dhruv and I both are wearing masks and also gloves,” Ahuja said. “The kids also wear masks and we try to keep them 6 feet apart as much as possible. This can get a little bit boring for them, but it’s what we have
Because basketball usually involves physical contact, playing can pose a challenge. To combat this, the coaches implement drills and games aimed at keeping players safe.
“The kids do often ask for (scrimmages), but we’re skeptical to allow it, so we try to come up with games as much as possible,” Bhagavatula said. “For one game, they are allowed to come within 6 feet, but they have masks on and it’s just two kids interacting at the same time. So we give them that competitive nature while trying to minimize contact as much as possible.”
DA Basketball Clinics aims to teach more than just basketball. Ahuja and Bhagavatula said their clinics also teach students leadership and confidence by encouraging them to demonstrate drills in front of their peers.
“I think what’s unique about our camp is that we aren’t just giving kids basketball skills, I think we’re also trying to implement life skills wherever we can,” Ahuja said. “I feel like that sets us apart from other camps where they’re a follower, whereas with us, we are trying to teach them how to be leaders.”
Now that school has started, the clinics will continue on weekends for a fee of $15.