Pitino among coaches who attend clinic for epilepsy awareness
TEANECK, N.J. -- For Rhode Island assistant coach Jim Carr and his wife, Natalie, Friday will go down as the worst day of the year. It’s when the Carrs keenly feel the pain of losing their son, Brayden. Jim called it “the most untherapeutic day.” Brayden, who suffered from epileptic seizures, died in 2011 when he was 2 1/2. A few months later, his parents started In Brayden’s Eyes, The Brayden Carr Foundation Inc.
Friday’s coaching clinic, conducted at the Rothman Center at Fairleigh Dickinson University, has helped the foundation raise more than $300,000, according to Carr, and provide assistance to 25 families of children dealing with seizures. The assistance has come in different forms, but all of it has contributed to the goal of helping people cope with an issue Jim and Natalie are familiar with.
“We want to keep it simple,” Carr said. “I’m a basketball coach, a basketball clinic is something genuinely we can give a great effort to. We want to [keep] the focus on people who are going through something with their families. When you get your initial diagnosis of seizures or any kind of thing, it’s a life-changing event and you don’t know what to do. I think if people know there’s a little support and a little comfort, it makes it a little bit easier for them to get through their day. Because you don’t know when a seizure is coming, you don’t know how it’s going to hit. If people at least know that there’s a little bit of comfort that we can give, it helps us.
“I remember those first few days. You don’t know when your next breath is coming from. You were confused -- the gamut of emotions is crazy. So, that support, the financial support, and just the moral support that we can give to some people by knowing that their son or daughter is going to get great treatment is great.”
The list of coaches who have spoken at the clinic includes Florida’s Billy Donovan, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg. Not one coach has turned down a request to speak at the clinic, Carr says, with some promising to attend in future years due to scheduling conflicts.
The following coaches participated in this year’s edition: Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, South Carolina’s Frank Martin, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and former NBA coach George Karl. Each was scheduled to speak for an hour on different topics to an audience of more than 400 high school and college coaches (Carr said one coach traveled from Texas).
Hoiberg, a renowned tactician whose Cyclones teams have excelled offensively, explained and walked a group of players through a number of set plays and actions. Pitino put players through several drills involving one-on-one situations that emphasized dribbling, shot fakes, jab steps and other moves for shaking defenders and scoring. Martin explained the principles behind his defensive philosophy.
“I think the college basketball world and just the basketball world in general is a lot more close-knit than people give it credit for," Carr said. "As a general nature, coaches want to help and they want to help each other. When people saw what me and [Natalie] went through with the loss of Brayden, I think people jumped on board right away. It’s really grown. The crowd here today is phenomenal. The main thing is, I think you can come to this clinic and you can learn, make yourself a better coach, but also you can see where your money is going to, [and how it] directly helps certain families.”
Later Friday, Carr planned to return to Rhode Island, where recruits are expected to be on campus for visits.
“The college basketball world doesn’t stop, recruiting never stops,” Carr said. “Brayden is calling a timeout today and we’ll give him his time.”