Rockford, Ill. (WIFR) During his off-season , Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet is enjoying some spare time back in his hometown of Rockford, but also making sure to give back to the same community that helped shape who he is today.
You've heard the saying "Like Mike".... but for those at the Fred VanVleet summer camp, these basketball players simply want to be.... "Like Fred."
"Just take some things that they can learn and apply in every day life and on the court," said VanVleet. "They're not going to change their lives in two days, but hopefully we can give them some things that they can take take along with them for the rest of the time."
For more than 200 young athletes at the UW Health Sports Factory over the weekend, the memories made from learning one-on-one skills from the NBA Pro and Rockford-native will certainly last a life time.
"The number one message is to have fun, for sure, without a doubt, but second, I want them to go hard," VanVleet said. "So we're going to have fun, but you're going to work hard."
Though this is the first year for the camp, VanVleet and the Rockford Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau are working together to make sure these local kids have more opportunities like this in the future.
"We wanted it to be about kids, about access for kids, through certainly our sports marketing efforts, but Fred being such a great person to work with," said Nick Povalitis, Sports Sales Manager for the RACVB. "He's all in, all about giving back to Rockford, and I think that really shines through this weekend, that's the experience we're trying to create."
Aiming to highlight all that Rockford has to offer, but more importantly, the positive impact sports can have on kids' lives, like it did for Fred.
"We're trying things and experimenting, seeing what works what doesn't, and we'll keep building," VanVleet said. "Hopefully this event shows what types of things we can have here in this community, and that's my biggest thing, just being an impact for the future."