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Local high schools lend helping hand to Covington YMCA
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At the Covington Family YMCA, there is never a dull moment. And last week was certainly no exception, which kicked off sports camp that will be continued throughout the summer.

Athletics such as baseball, basketball and cheerleading highlighted the week of activities for many young boys and girls.

"We just wanted to spark some interest in a lot of these kids to go out and get involved," said Seth Wilson, YMCA youth sports coordinator.

But the YMCA, along with Wilson, cannot do it alone and need help this summer, which is exactly what it got from several local schools last week.

The Alcovy cheerleading team and the Newton basketball and baseball programs assisted with the clinic.

"Every kid has an opportunity to work at something and learn to get better if he or she wants to," said NHS head basketball coach Rick Rasmussen. "So, I felt it was a great opportunity for our team to give back to the community."

The basketball session, which was held on Thursday at the YMCA gymnasium, involved dribbling, passing and shooting. Approximately 75 kids took part in the clinic, and were assisted by Rasmussen and his assistant coaches, including his varsity and junior varsity teams.

"I was glad they asked us to help," said Rasmussen. "It's just good for our (players) to teach these younger kids what they've been taught at Newton High School. As the saying goes: it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice; that's what our kids are learning to do here."

Giving back to the community has been anything but new for the Rams. Previously, they took part in the NBA (Never Been Absent) program at Porterdale Elementary School, focusing on responsibility and how proud they were of the young students.

"I was very, very pleased with the way Coach Rasmussen and the Newton basketball team handled themselves," said Wilson. "They were very interactive with the kids, and everyone always had a smile on their faces - players and campers. The kids had an absolute blast."

The sports clinics will last throughout the summer, but last week marked the first time the activities began. The YMCA encourages as many athletic teams from Alcovy, Eastside and Newton to help be mentors to these youngsters.

Despite running his annual baseball camp for four days last week, Newton head baseball coach Billy Roper was still more than willing to also take part on Friday.

"I was tickled to death to help out," said Roper. "If I wasn't doing my (baseball) camp, my son would have been at the YMCA all week. It's good for kids at a young age to be exposed to as many things as possible, and I think it's great that the YMCA exposed more than one sport to the kids throughout the week."

Like Rasmussen, Roper focused on three sessions relating to basic fundamentals - throwing, catching and base running. Each session lasted 40 minutes, and had around 30 kids participating in each drill.

"The main thing we worked on was catching ground balls, the importance of running the bases and picking up the coaches at first and third base (to see) what to do," said Roper.

But the activities are not limited to just high school programs helping out with the clinics. For instance, the Georgia Crusaders (semi-pro football team) will be coming next week to help out, too.

In addition, Wilson said that some of the local golf professionals have already agreed to visit the YMCA and help teach the kids.

"Basically, the main reason I enjoy this is (because) you can learn so much about how to be successful at life," said Wilson, "including how to be successful at whatever sport or activity you want to be involved in, whether it's a major sport like football or a minor sport like ping-pong.

"It's going to require a lot of yourself and require you to learn a lot about life lessons to be successful at that sport," added Wilson. "If the YMCA can somehow try to teach our campers to be that way, then I think we're going to be building a stronger generation of kids in Newton County."