MVP Basketball Camp is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this summer and has received a proclamation from the county recognizing 5,000 scholarships granted since inception. The scholarship program has enabled children to attend the camp regardless of financial means, a dream for founder Stanley D. Greene. The camp is very popular among Westchester County residents, but many may be unaware of MVP’s unusual history.
Stan Greene’s parents could not afford for Stan to attend summer camp when he was growing up, a fact he never forgot when he started MVP. Stan loved basketball and played on Harvard University’s Varsity team. He had a long and successful business career, then in his retirement he worked as a coach at several basketball camps. He noticed these camps were only for families who could afford to pay the tuition. This is what triggered Stan to create MVP Basketball Camp as a non-profit organization. Stan Green explained his selection of the name of the camp. “MVP usually means ‘Most Valuable Player,’ but at our camp it means ‘Most Valued Person.’ Our goal is to treat each camper as a Most Valued Person. Through the game of basketball we help to guide each camper along the passageway of life’s experience. If we can accomplish that goal, we will consider our efforts rewarded.”
MVP Basketball Camp served 400 campers its first year, including 23 who attended on full scholarships plus another 46 who received partial scholarships. Stan invited many guest speakers, including former Knicks coach Red Holzman, NBA shooting instructor Dave Hopla, NBA referee Ronnie Nunn, the Commissioner of the NBA David Stern, and NBA Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald who returned to camp this year for the 20th Anniversary.
Due to the success of the first year of camp, camper registration and scholarship awards increased the following summer. In the second year, WNBA Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski spoke at the camp. The camp was not only attracting children from Westchester, but also from all the boroughs of New York City. In 1996 Stan Greene and George Masters, the head basketball coach at Fox Lane High School in Bedford directed operations of the camp. This was where the initial connection with Fox Lane originated. Another Fox Lane teacher John Nemsick came on board as a coach around the same time. John has now been the camp director for the past 10 years.
In the early years, MVP Basketball Camp provided scholarships to children from group home facilities like Abbott House, Pleasantville Cottages, and Graham-Windham, as well as children from the Fresh Air Fund and Westhab. The list of social service agencies has now extended to Andrus Children’s Center, Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club, Westchester Jewish Community Services, the Theodore D. Young Center, and the Carver Center. For many years these organizations have commented on the good MVP hsd done for their children, and the opportunity given to the kids to flourish and improve their basketball skills at the camp each summer.
In 2005 a young camper from named Matt Ellman only asked for one gift on his 10th birthday. In Matt’s birthday party invitations he included a picture of himself at camp, along with a note asking for donations to MVP camp rather than presents. He wanted to help other kids attend camp also. Matt raised a total of $1,400 allowing four youngsters to attend the camp. With this generous and kind action the Stan Greene Community Spirit Award was established. “The award is really to recognize people who have gone above and beyond to help the camp fulfill its mission,” says Noel Muyskens. Matt received the award in 2005. Subsequent recipients of this award include Dannon, for their generous support of the lunch program, and former MVP camper turned professional athlete Torey Thomas, who comes back to MVP each year and mentors some of the children from his White Plains neighborhood.
Stan Greene’s organization has not only been a camp for residents of New York State, but also for children overseas. In 1999 Stan helped sponsor some foreign students to come to Westchester and get a taste of American Basketball. Some notable campers from that year include a 6-foot-2 16 year old named George Otieno-Pala and his sister Vanessa from Kenya, Thomas Rhall, age 9, who moved to Rye from Canberra, Australia, and Ignacio Hernandez, a 14 year old Spaniard who had played in Madrid and wished to continue basketball in the United States. Stan also hosted Ugis Briedis, a table tennis champion in his country of Latvia, in order for him to attend MVP Basketball Camp. In more recent years MVP has hosted campers from Germany, England, Japan, France, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.
During the summer after September 11th, 2001, the Fire Fighter Fund was set up to allow children of any fire fighter who had lost their life to attend MVP Camp on a full scholarship. Then the “Hoops for Troops” program was created in 2005 to provide scholarships for campers with family members in the armed forces. In 2007 MVP reached a milestone by awarding more than 300 scholarships in one summer, and they have increased the number of scholarships granted every year since. Stan Green passed away in 2009, leaving MVP as his proudest legacy.
To launch MVP Basketball Camp’s 20th Anniversary season, MVP’s Junior Board of Directors, a group of dedicated high school volunteers, held a three-on-three basketball tournament over Columbus Day weekend that also featured clinics run by MVP’s experienced coaches. That was followed by a Ping Pong Madness fundraiser in March organized by the adult board. The two events raised a combined total of $20,000 for camp scholarships. Then MVP decided to celebrate the anniversary with two parties. The first celebration was a private wine tasting event, which saw the return of Nate “Tiny” Archibald. The second event will be an after-camp party for kids and adults with a guest appearance by Former NBA All-Star and current New York Knicks Assistant General Manager Allan Houston. This event is being held at our White Plains Camp location (128 Grandview Ave, White Plains, NY 10606) and is open to the general public. We hope to see everyone there who has supported MVP Basketball Camp throughout our first 20 years.