Written by Andy Newman, email@example.com Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
Rob Weingard, a Sands Point resident and former Hofstra basketball star, is critical of the direction that youth sports has taken in this country and feels strongly that his Scottie Workouts basketball program, held twice a week in the Doctors’ Gym at the Landmark on Main street, is the right way to work with youngsters.
“Unfortunately it’s all about chasing scholarships, “ Weingard explained. “A lot of things are being done at the beginning that is not good for our kids. They play in too many sports, too many teams but we don’t teach enough. You can play on 15 teams but that doesn’t mean you’re taught anything.”
“There are 40 million kids playing sports in this country,” he continued. “And there are a million adults coaching. Nowadays youth sports are too much parents vs. parents. It’s become ‘we need to win’ and I think we need to develop. Less than two percent of athletes get a college scholarship. Children are given unrealistic goals by adults and there’s too much pressure. It’s that emphasis on winning at a young age that throws me off the most. Many people treat this whole sports thing as a minor league team for pro sports and it makes no sense.”
Weingard’s program for boys and girls runs on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. There are two sessions each night that last an hour and it’s open to 3rd through 8th graders. Group size is just ten children and there are fall, spring and summer sessions. Weingard started the program four years ago. “I thought it would be nice to teach Port kids the right way to learn,” he explained. The program has become so popular because of Weingard’s approach that there are now waiting lists.
“I think an hour of shooting, passing and dribbling is the correct length of time,” he said. “I watch every kid. We do a lot of running too. We teach accordingly. The advanced kids do the same skills as the not so advanced kids.”
Scottie Workouts is named after his brother, Scott Weingard, who died in the 9/11 attacks while working for Cantor Fitzgerald. Rob established the Scott Weingard Memorial Fund ten years ago and has raised over $7 million. The Fund has contributed to Sloane Kettering, Autism Speaks and has established a scholarship fund in perpetuity at the University of Michigan, Scott’s alma mater.
During the clinic, Weingard, who led the nation in assists in 1985 with 280 at Hofstra and won a Gold Medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel that summer, is in constant motion giving each player individual attention. “I watch every kid’s layup, I watch every kid’s shot, I watch every kid’s dribble,” he said. “And I’m making comments accordingly.”
Weingard’s passion about teaching youth sports has inspired him to create a documentary film about his philosophy, which he hopes to have finished in the next two months. Three Teams follows the 2010-2011 basketball season in which Rob coached three youth groups. “It’s a youth sports story watching me coach my three kids’ teams and what you see is what happens in every town, every community and every youth sport,” said Weingard.
The film also features interviews with youth sports experts, including Rick Wolff, nationally recognized as the top authority on sports parenting. Weingard, who also has his own garment center business, hopes to interest PBS, ESPN, Nickelodeon and the trade show circuit in showing his film.