HALFMOON — There were plenty of smiles present on the blacktop, even before the ice cream was dished out to close the afternoon’s session.
That’s what Siena College men’s basketball Carmen Maciariello had wanted to see on an afternoon where the Saints took a break from their summer workouts to hang out for a little more than an hour with children on the basketball court next to the CAPTAIN Community Human Services’ Cheryl’s Lodge.
“They have the ability to impact lives, and to make someone’s day and give them something to remember,” Maciariello said of his players who returned to campus last week. “If it’s something that helps them better themselves and get them over a hump if they’re having a difficult day or is something they can look forward to, it’s perfect.”
Siena’s players and coaches went through drills and signed autographs for the couple dozen children who attended the community event. CAPTAIN stands for “Community Action for Parents, Teens, and Interested Neighbors,” and is an organization that helps teens, individuals and families in Saratoga County and beyond.
Manny Camper, a rising junior for Siena, said the Saints took as much from the afternoon session as the youngsters.
“It’s fun. It feels good,” Camper said. “It makes you feel better as a person to see the smiles on their faces.”
“I love stuff like this,” said Elijah Burns, a Troy native who transferred last season to Siena from Notre Dame. “I was saying earlier, it reminds me of summer camps I used to go to as a kid living in this area. . . . It means a lot, especially for me being from here — a local kid — and knowing these kids could do more things than I’ve done and [to try] to help them see that.”
Siena’s men’s basketball program, Burns and Maciariello said, is planning a community event for later this summer in Troy at Prospect Park.
“I’m super-excited about it,” Burns said.
Monday’s event took place not far from where Maciariello grew up in Clifton Park. But the former Shenendehowa High School star who later graduated from Siena said the proximity of Monday’s event to where he grew up was not a primary driving force for him in bringing the Saints there.
“Regardless of where you are from,” Maciariello said, “you always want to give back to great causes and CAPTAIN does a great job helping people in need, and gives kids the opportunity to be kids and not worry about anything else.”
Siena started its offseason summer workouts last week, and went through a workout not long after leaving Monday’s community event. While the Saints are using their first formal sessions together to begin learning their offensive system for the 2019-20 season, Maciariello said developing chemistry is as important as anything for the Saints.
“Growing that trust, I think that’s important for the whole program,” Maciariello said.