By Joel Hall
Former Atlanta Hawks forward, Mark Strickland, is helping the City of Lovejoy get more use out of its new Green Park basketball facility. Starting Saturday, Strickland will coach young boys and girls on the fundamentals of basketball, and on proper nutrition.
Mark Strickland's Basketball and Nutrition Clinic will take place every other Saturday, starting this Saturday, from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m. The clinic, which costs $20 per student, per session, will take students through offensive and defensive drills, and will include special guest instructors and giveaways.
Strickland, who helped run a three-on-three basketball tournament that took place in conjunction with the opening of Green Park in July, said he wants to do more for the area.
"I got to know the city manager and talked about things we could do to help the city," Strickland said. "We got the approval from the mayor and council [to run the program]. It's pretty much to bring awareness to the courts in Lovejoy and give the kids something to do, other than sit around and get in trouble."
Strickland, who is currently an assistant men's basketball coach at Morehouse College, said the clinics will operate "like an NBA [National Basketball Association] practice," with warm-up exercises, practice drills and team play. He said students will also be able to compete for prizes, such as autographed NBA basketballs, autographed player photos, NBA All-Star giveaway bags, headbands, wristbands and shooting-arm sleeves, made popular by NBA point guard Allen Iverson.
Rebound FX, a sports supplement and energy drink marketed by Theo Ratliff of the San Antonio Spurs, will co-sponsor Mark Strickland's Basketball and Nutrition Clinic. Phil Oliver, co-creator of Rebound FX, said the clinic will also be used to speak with young people about the importance of supplementing exercise with healthy eating and drinking habits.
"We feel like [nutrition] is the missing link in fitness," Oliver said. "If they [kids] are full of sugar and sodas, then they won't be as athletic. Exercise is good for you, but it isn't if you are not replacing the minerals you are sweating out. That's the kind of things we want to talk to these kids about while they are learning basketball.
"Sports can be a powerful thing that can have an impact on our community," he added. "Basketball is an amazing avenue to get things done."
Lovejoy City Manager Sebastian Jackson said he believes the clinic, which will be held every other Saturday, weather permitting, brings added "authenticity" to Green Park. He hopes the attention will attract more people to the park, as well as funding for more programs.
"It's great to bring some organization to Green Park since it is brand new, but it is even a greater treat to have a former Atlanta Hawk supporting it," Jackson said. "This is really big for us. I hope this goes toward more organized basketball events at the park and even a league in the city. On the other side, I hope it casts more light here so organizations can give us grant money to do other athletic events in the city."
The Mark Strickland Basketball and Nutritional Clinic is open to boys and girls ages 8 to 18. Green Park is located at 1999 Lovejoy Road in Lovejoy. To sign up for the clinic, call (404) 964-8413 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.