AUBURN — Ellie Legare was all decked out with sunglasses and a headband.

The four-year old from Lewiston was one of many kids that turned out for the Maine Red Claws  Summer Coaching Series on Tuesday. Legare showed off her dribbling skills and effortless jumping jacks all while keeping up with her older brother and sister.

“We’re Facebook fans with the Red Claws,” said Sarah Legare, who brought her three children to the Dunkin Donuts on Minot Avenue for the clinic Tuesday morning. Jaden is really big into basketball. Everything he does, the girls want to do. So, we thought we’d take a swing down.”

Jaden Legare is nine while sisters Anna and Ellie are six and four respectively. All three were active participants as over 30 kids were put through the paces by Red Claws coach Austin Ainge. The clinics are slated for 13 different cities this summer and  return to the area Aug. 19 in Lisbon Falls.

“Kids show up and have some fun,” said Ainge. “It was a little hot today, but it was a great turnout. It’s fun to meet people. We feel very fortunate. Our fans have supported us so well. I feel like I’ve benefited from these types of clinics when I was a kid. So it’s good to give back.”

With no age limit, it allowed little Ellie Legare to try her skills with kids twice as big and three times as old as her. She fared well as Ainge ran through a variety of fundamental dribbling, passing and shooting drills. She couldn’t help but catch Ainge’s eye as she tried dribbling a ball that was almost as big as she was.

The Legare’s didn’t even get a chance at the family speciality. Their father, Jared, played for Eastgate and once won $10,000 making a half-court shot at Husson College. For Sarah, it was a great opportunity to watch her kids develop some new skills and enjoy basketball.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I’m from a hockey family and basketball is kind of new to me, but I’m learning and getting the hang of it.”

The Red Claws are coming off a successful inaugural season in which the team tied a league record for wins by a first-year club and boasted 24 straight sellouts at the Portland Expo. Ainge said expectations are high for the second season.

“We have much higher goals than just matching what we did last year,” said Ainge. “We want to do a lot better and we think we will do a lot better with a year under our belt.”

To do that, Ainge said the team will have to bring in a high level of talent. The hope is to put some players into the NBA but also have the Red Claws reach the playoffs. Right now, the team is doing its homework and evaluating the potential talent that may be available.

“Some guys are trying to make the NBA,” said Ainge. “We might have a few guys back. We hope they all make it, but we don’t know at this point.”

Ainge capped off the hour-plus session Tuesday morning by signing autographs and posing for pictures with all the players.  The kids were sent home with autographed team posters and water bottles and a few skills to work on for basketball season.

“We wanted to do something nice like having free clinics and giving back,” said Ainge. “We just hope the kids had fun and they all said they did.”


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