Having a ball at work

Klumph with the Golden State Warriors during warm up before the Clippers take them on at the Staples Center. Photos by Sam Rubinroit

When thinking of the people living in Malibu who have exciting jobs, such as actors, movie directors and athletes, 12-year-old Bruce Klumph is most likely not the first person who would come to mind.

Klumph is a 7th grade student at Calvary Christian Middle School. Recently, he became a ball boy for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association.

“It’s pretty unique compared to everyone else’s [job],” Klumph said in a recent interview with The Malibu Times before performing his duties at a Clippers game against the Golden State Warriors. “Not many people get to do this, so I am very fortunate.” Klumph was offered the ball boy job by his parent’s season ticket holder representative.

Ball boys for the Clippers range in age from 10 to 15 years old. Nine or 10 ball boys work each game, taking turns covering the first and third quarters, or the second and fourth.

“I pass the players the ball, warm them up, mop the court and stuff like that,” said Klumph, who is scheduled to work 21 games this season.

Klumph must arrive at Staples by 5:45 p.m., and he doesn’t get home until 11:30 p.m. While not paid, the ball boys receive free tickets, food, and equipment, including shoes and Clippers clothing.

The most important part of being a ball boy is making sure the players shoot enough shots before the game to feel ready and confident. Klumph said he believes the quality of the warm up has a big impact on how well the Clippers play.

“If you warm them up [well], they get some jumpers and a lot of shots in,” Klumph said. “But if you don’t even do that, then they don’t really get a good warm up and they don’t get [a good shooting] percentage [in that game].”

The Clippers have a better record than their rival, the Los Angeles Lakers. Elton Brand, who Klumph said is the sweatiest player on the team, is off to a MVP-caliber season, and Chris Kaman, who is Klumph’s favorite player, is close to achieving double-digit point and rebound per game averages.

“[Klumph] has been great,” said Rob Strikwerda, who runs the ball boy program and is a Clippers account executive. “It’s his first year, so he’s a rookie. Rookies do a lot of the grunt work, but it has worked out really well.”

Klumph is not a novice when it comes to basketball. In addition to his job as a ball boy, Klumph, who is 5-feet, 4-inches tall, plays basketball for his school’s team. He is also a big video game fan. He said his favorite game is NBA 2K6, and he is excited about his new PlayStation Portable video game system. Klumph also enjoys going to the beach and surfing.

For Klumph, the best part of the job he said is “hanging out with the players and being down on the court.”

He also said he thinks it’s cool when his friends see him on TV mopping up the floor during a Clippers game. Klumph said the worst part of the job is that sometimes he has to sacrifice school work or playing sports to get to the game. However, he reduces these negatives by doing homework at the Staples Center before each game.

Another positive, Strikwerda said, is not only is Klumph having fun, but he is also building a solid foundation for himself by learning to be responsible and reliable. “I think it’s something that’s going to lead to a leadership position for him in the future,” Strikwerda said.

Seth Rubinroit is a freshman at Malibu High School and writes sports for LA Youth and TheSportsGod.com