The beloved Cordova Iceworm Festival is in full swing with a very special addition this year. Professional basketball players were on hand over the weekend, who kindly showed the youngsters — ages ranging from kindergarten to eighth graders — everything from dribbling to jump shots. The energy was high and the mood exuberant at the Cordova High School gymnasium.
The Cordova Amateur Youth Athletics (CAYAC) Youth Basketball Camp event was held last Saturday for free to the community. The clinic coaches included Cuttino Mobley Jr., Ant Henderson — former Division 1 and professional basketball player — and professional hooper and dunker Shian Bradshaw. The camp was sponsored by local businesses, including Edward Jones, the Reluctant Fisherman and Serenity Adventure Charters.
Coach Seth Balint, who alongside the CAYAC board created the youth league last fall, was on hand and helped coordinate the event. He shared that youth basketball hasn’t been in Cordova for a while and it was sorely missed.
“We haven’t had youth basketball in Cordova in a long time,” said Balint. “Starting with our youth league in October this past year was the first time for a league in a long time. Bringing basketball back to Cordova is super important to me and to a lot of locals.”
Mikee Reodica, a graduate of Cordova Jr./Sr. High School who is now based in Los Angeles, is one of the connections that helped craft this youth basketball camp during the Iceworm Festival. The basketball players are also scheduled to play on a team in the Iceworm Classic Basketball Tournament.
“To be able to have Mikee come back and bring his guys who he works closely with, they do camps and play leagues, they are Division 1 basketball players that played overseas, to be able to bring them to Cordova is super special … Mikee is super passionate about basketball and about Cordova,” said Balint, who played with Reodica on the court during their high school years.
Balint said the ball players are “having a great time” and are in talks to come back next year.
“We want to give these guys a good experience, for giving their time to us and bringing excitement back to Cordova basketball,” said Balint.
The coaches were able to enjoy local homemade culinary delights like salmon appetizers during the camp break, as well as a cruise in the Prince William Sound on a seine boat.
Reodica, who grew up in Cordova and graduated in 2009, was thrilled to be back in his hometown and bring professional basketball players to the court. Reodica shared he played basketball in high school and got to be on state tournament teams.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to be around basketball. When I left here, basketball never ended for me and I was able to work with athletes,” he said.
Reodica said youth basketball is important to him, and he wants to see an investment in the sport in Cordova full steam ahead. Reodica shared he thinks getting kids enthusiastic at a young age is important in building skills on the court and that anything is possible when they work hard.
“I just want to ignite excitement back into basketball and bring us back to be one of those basketball towns … Now we just get them excited and start with the fundamentals, I think Cordova will be back on the map very soon,” he said. “For me when I was younger, I would be in the gym all day just to shoot a basket, I didn’t know how to dribble. But by the end of the day, it’s for love of the game.”
Reodica also shared his admiration for the other coaches. He considers them friends, and said they are very “approachable and accessible” for the youth that are inspired to play basketball.
“These guys are so genuine … the kids can ask them questions, watch their drills, they can direct message and they will respond,” he said. “They are here making an influence in the world, but they are never too busy for you … at the end of the day, that is the impact they want to leave and know that we are cheering for you.”
Reodica said he was appreciative of the community supporters who made the camp possible, with a special shoutout to owner of Serenity Adventure Charters Kenny Jones.
“If you guys have a home game and bring us here, we will be the loudest cheerers. We just want the kids to have fun and win,” Reodica said.