Brian Leak, Carl Russell rec center employee, brings back camp for kids

Nearly 70 kids participated in the Drills and Skills Camp and tournament this year.

Brian Leak, Carl Russell rec center employee, brings back camp for kids
August 18
09:13 2022

For years, Carl Russell Community Center employee Brian Leak has been using the game of basketball to not only teach kids the game, but also as a means of keeping them off the streets. Due to the pandemic, he was not able to hold his annual Drills and Skills Camp the past two years, but now he is elated to bring the camp back this summer.

As part of the camp, Leak also has the kids play in a tournament to work on the skills they learned during the camp in live action. There are around 60 to 70 kids, ranging from age 5 – 15, who attend the camp.

“In the camp this year, because of COVID, we got a late start, but we worked on dribbling, passing, shooting and different things that take place in the tournament,” said Leak. “We just work on basic fundamentals like left-hand and right-hand layups, making sure they can use both hands, defensive stance and different things like that.”

Basketball is a way of life for Leak. To not have the opportunity to hold the camp for the last couple of years was tough for him.

“I am very happy because it gives the kids a new direction and something to do, instead of going out there and doing crazy things in the streets,” Leak said about his feelings of bringing Drills and Skills Camp back to the rec center. “I’d rather have them here, safe and doing something that they like to do.”

Leak says he was inspired by men such as Ben Piggott, Louis Lowery, Rob Little, Kenny Mickens and others to strive and have a better life when he was a youth, so those are the things he wants to pour into this next generation of kids.  

“The thing I had a problem with is that I couldn’t afford to play at certain places, so they kind of took me under their wings,” said Leak. “Rob Little was one of the best big men in the city and he played with the Harlem Globetrotters. I worked with him at 14 Street (recreation center) for about five years.

“Louis was actually my neighbor; we grew up in Rolling Hills and every morning he used to get me up to run and train and do everything I could possibly do without money coming out of my pocket.”

Leak has been working off and on at Carl Russell for 18 years. Throughout the years, he has seen hundreds of kids come through the center. It’s a joy for him to watch the maturation process of the kids as they grow into adulthood.

“It makes me feel good to see that I have touched some of these kids’ lives and they are going on with their lives as far as making good choices by going to college or getting a good job and then they come back and tell me ‘Man, I appreciate what you did for me,’” said Leak about what makes him happy to work with kids.  

“I had the opportunity to coach Chris Paul, Harry Giles and my son Antonio Robinson, which really motivated me to continue doing what I am doing.”

Leak says even though the camp is almost over, he never likes to turn a kid away. With any program that he runs at the center, he says there is an “open door policy” that applies to any child who wants to participate.

Ron Couthen has worked with Leak for many years as a volunteer at the center for the camp. Leak says Couthen has played an integral role in bringing kids to the center and being a mentor to the kids.

“He (Leak) helped me out mentally so much in life, so I just want to give that back to the kids just to see their smiling faces and see them improving in life and basketball,” said Couthen. “When the kids are smiling and having fun and telling their parents how much fun they had, really brings a smile to my face.”

Leak also wanted to thank Carl Russell Center Supervisor Talia Gabriel and Desmond Thomas for their continued support during the camp as well.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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