Alaysia Drummonds is a fifth-grader at Ahern Middle School in Foxborough, and she would like to be a basketball player someday. Her favorite player is Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, so she thought it was pretty cool Wednesday when she got to wear a Hayward No. 20 shirt while the Celtics star stood in front of her and offered instruction.
“He works hard and doesn’t let himself down,” Drummonds said. “I always wanted to meet him.”
Hayward and his wife, Robyn, organized a clinic at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury for about 50 Boston-area girls as part of the NBA’s “Her Time To Play” initiative. Hayward and Celtics employees helped teach fundamentals, and Hayward spoke to the elementary and middle school students about basketball and life.
“Resilience, mindfulness, it being OK to fail and get up and try again,” Hayward said. “Kind of just social media and things, everything that goes on in today’s world that can really get you down, realizing that it’s OK to be anxious and nervous and those are human emotions.
“But really just leaning on your support system and being resilient and fighting through and getting up and doing it again.”
Gordon and Robyn have three daughters: Bernie, 4, Charlie, 3, and 8-month-old Nora. The couple is pleased by the increase in opportunities for girls to participate in sports, and they hope that events such as Wednesday’s will become more common.
“It’s more fun now because our girls are getting older, but it’s fun to be able to highlight girls playing, and giving them the opportunity,” Robyn Hayward said. “It’s usually focused on boys, but bringing it to the girls and giving them a space to just focus on them, I think it’s neat and it gives them confidence that could carry over into school.
“So really just giving them confidence and getting them more comfortable playing together, that’s what I want. I want them to all feel a little more confident after this.”
While Hayward was instructing the students, he was encouraged when he saw some of the young players try to include his own daughters in the activities.
“Charlie is for sure a little shy, but Bernie got right in the mix there,” he said, “so it was fun to see her and the older girls, and I’m thankful that they were being so cool with her.
“I think my oldest one is antsy to get in there and get involved. Certainly getting to the age where she might be able to start doing some stuff. The other one still is a little bit shy, but it’s always good to get them out and interacting with other people.”
Hayward has mostly spent past offseasons at his summer home in San Diego. But this year he mostly stayed in Boston. It allowed him to become more connected to the community with events such as Wednesday’s, and it has brought some consistency to his own workouts.
“[It’s been] unique from the standpoint that I’ve been with the coaching staff all summer and unique from the standpoint that a lot of the coaching staff has been in,” Hayward said. “So they’ve been giving their time to me this summer, because when the offseason comes, the coaches need to get away, too, and get a bit of a break, but I’ve been thankful that they’ve been in the facility and really working with me, as well.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach