Gorches: Region athletes need to give back to hometown communities
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org July 1, 2013 8:10PM
East Chicago Central graduate and current Orlando Magic player E'Twaun Moore gives instruction to participants on how to do a layup during the second annual E'Twaun Moore basketball camp held at East Chicago High School on Friday June 28, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 3, 2013 6:32AM
Giving back to the community: It’s such an overused phrase to describe what professional athletes are supposed to do.
Dare I say it’s what they’re expected to do.
But we have a handful of Northwest Indiana high school graduates who are showing they get it as they move on through their athletic careers.
Four fairly recent region grads have held or been part of youth basketball camps in the past month — two of them were college teammates who now are playing professionally.
Valparaiso High and Purdue grad Robbie Hummel held his annual camp at the Fieldhouse-Merrillville, while his Boilermakers teammate E’Twaun Moore held his camp last week at his alma mater, East Chicago.
Both are playing in the pro ranks — Hummel in Spain’s top league and Moore with the NBA’s Orlando Magic — and both are giving back.
In fact, Hummel not only held his own camp, but also showed up at Moore’s to help out and tell the kids how much of an inspiration his teammate is.
It’s not as easy to give back for players getting paid to play. It seems like they forget that important “giving back” unwritten rule. But Hummel and Moore are a rare breed with good upbringings and solid coaches who have taught them the right way on and off the court along the way.
The other two local players who came back recently to give back to kids are Crown Point High grad Spike Albrecht and Lake Central grad Glenn Robinson III, both of whom play for the Michigan squad that lost to Louisville in the national championship game this past spring.
Robinson, who is the son of a Roosevelt High and Purdue grad who went on to star in the NBA and win a title with the San Antonio Spurs, was part of a camp at Lake Central a few weeks back.
Albrecht got his 15 minutes of fame in that national championship by scoring 17 points in the first half after averaging less than two points per game in his freshman campaign, and becoming a Twitter sensation.
Last week he was part of a camp at Taft Middle School with more than 100 kids showing up because Spike is an inspiration.
Hummel, Moore and Robinson also are inspirations, and they understand that now. I hope they keep understanding it and keep giving back to the towns and schools they came from, because not everyone does.
I still remember Robinson’s dad holding a camp at Roosevelt for several years while he was still in the NBA and a couple of years afterward. Then it just stopped.
West Side grad LaTroy Hawkins, who pitches for the New York Mets right now at 40 years old, used to be part of youth clinics in Gary. I remember attending one in which he was there, though he didn’t want to talk about it.
Neither one of them is part of camps or clinics in their hometown now.
In other words, they’re not giving back enough.
There are others who should be doing the same as young inspirational players Hummel, Moore, Albrecht and Robinson.
What about Mitch McGary, who is a Michigan teammate of Albrecht and Robinson? There’s no reason why McGary couldn’t come back to Chesterton High School and hold a camp.
How about West Side grad Brandon Moore, who used to be part of a camp in his hometown, but doesn’t anymore?
Maybe Crown Point grad Dan Plesac could come back after the baseball season — he’s an on-air commentator on MLB Network and is kind of busy until late October — and hold a camp or clinic.
Merrillville grad Mike Neal is continuing to play for the Green Bay Packers. He actually could hold the camp with his fellow football playing brothers, Matt (Purdue), and Ryan, who is still at Merrillville.
And what about the “Shark”? Jeff Samardzija is not far away pitching for the Cubs. No reason the Valparaiso High and Notre Dame grad can’t take a short jaunt over the state line after the season and hold a camp at Valparaiso.
I could go on with so many other NWI athletes, but you get the point. Giving back isn’t hard as long as the athlete — whether they’re in the pro ranks or still in college — actually cares and remembers he or she they came from.
Heck, even LeBron James — the greatest basketball player on the planet — holds a camp in California in the summer. It’s gotten bigger in recent years, but James still shows up for at least part of it.
If he can do it, every Northwest Indiana native can do it, too.