• Dan Russoman

Parish clinics about more than basketball


Coach Steve Salvo and the Rev. David Rivera of the St. Mary of Mount Camel Parish will host basketball clinics this spring and summer. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Basketball is a passion for Steve Salvo. The longtime coach and counselor has used the sport as a way to teach not only basketball fundamentals, but also skills that can help young student athletes prepare for college and their entire lives.


Beginning on May 1, Salvo and the St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish Youth Organization will host what they are calling “Basketball Skills Clinics,” that are about much more than sharpening your free throw-shooting.


“This is a three-tiered program designed to help students earn money to help with college costs,” Salvo said.


Salvo, who’s long coaching career has included stops at both Hammonton and St. Joseph high schools as well as San Diego State University, also enjoyed a more than 30-year career in guidance at several southern New Jersey schools will lead the program.


“During my career, I’ve developed a set of skills that I call the ‘Triangle of Success.’ It’s a three-phase program designed to allow students to become the best that they can be,” Salvo said.


Salvo has teamed with the Parish Youth Organization to host the clinics, which will feature on-the-court basketball skills sessions along with classroom instruction that will teach students how to obtain college scholarships, both athletic and academic, along with many other means to help finance their post-high school education.


“Many students don’t look beyond athletic scholarships. They and their parents aren’t aware of the many academic scholarships, grants and financial aid packages that are available to students who qualify or have a financial need. We’re going to teach them how to go about getting those things,” Salvo said.


The weekly clinics, which will be held at St. Joseph School on Third Street every Saturday beginning May 1, will include basketball skills instruction along with sessions in the classroom that will touch on not only how to obtain financial assistance for college, but also discuss life skills that will improve the overall growth of the student.


Those aspects of Salvo’s program were attractive to the Rev. David Rivera, the pastor of the St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish.


Rivera is hoping to establish and grow the Parish Youth Organization (PYO), and is hoping the basketball clinics can set a standard for the PYO.


“The Parish Youth Organization hopes to develop activities for the kids in our neighborhoods and surrounding areas; to make good use of our facility here. And the first initiative will be our basketball skills training that should be starting May 1,” Rivera said.


Phase one of the program is in the gym, where students in grades three through 12 will learn basketball skills.


“Students will be grouped into beginners, intermediate and advanced skill groups. They will be taught individually with progressive drills at continuously-moving stations so that players are always involved and in motion, working from one-on-one concepts all the way to five-on-five competition,” Salvo said.


The second phase concerns scholarship programs.


“This prepares all student-athletes to be eligible for either academic, athletic and/or need-based grants after high school, at all levels of college,” Salvo said.


In addition to gaining information on scholarships, students attending the clinics will receive instruction in math and English, components Salvo feels are critical to their success.


“They need to learn these subjects as early as sixth grade because they form the foundation for the curriculum choices that can impact their ability to get money after high school. We’ll prepare them for SATs and other tests,” Salvo said.


The third phase of the program involves what Salvo calls “decision making.”


“This part is critical because it helps students learn how to weave through the many distractions that deter them from becoming all they can be,” Salvo said.


The personal growth aspect of the program was also appealing to Rivera, who is hoping students will embrace all three phases.


“One of the things with the PYO is that it will be about more than sports, it will be about the whole person. We want it to be fun. Sports is almost the hook of it, [but] we want to encourage a wider thing. And there will be a spiritual component of it, but it’s not going to be like having to go to church, not that we wouldn’t mind that,” Rivera said.


“Most parents these days are attracted to getting scholarships, but the decision-making part is so important. The virtue and character-building aspects will help these students direct themselves down the right path, instill a strong work ethic and help them make the right decisions,” Rivera said.


The Parish is also hoping that events like the basketball clinics will be the start of a program that will eventually include arts and family events.


“We have a stage here and a big facility that we can use for things like ‘Family Fridays,’ movie nights and open gyms,” Rivera said.


Those events will also help introduce families to the Parish and possibly lead to its growth.


“It’s a three-pillar initiative—sports, arts and something for families. We need to attract families back to the parish, and you do that by having things for kids. We want to host events that will offer a welcoming-type of atmosphere,” Rivera said.


The basketball clinics will be held every Saturday for 16 weeks, beginning May 1. They are open to all students in grades three through 12 and run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with boys 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and girls 1-4:30 p.m. at the Parish Gym, 133 N. Third Street in Hammonton.


The clinics are open to any student in the southern New Jersey area, but are limited to 30 players per session. Academic sessions are Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.


In-person registration will be held at the Parish gym on April 10 and 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $300 for students in grades five to 12, and $200 for those in grades three and four.

Call Steve Salvo at (609)-666-3510 for more information.