On the ball: Gamecocks visit post for clinic, training
October 27, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The University of South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball team participated in a different kind of team practice during its daylong visit to Fort Jackson Oct. 20.
The players spent the first part of the day participating in training events, following the guidance of 165th Infantry Brigade drill sergeants, before offering a basketball clinic to military children and meeting with wounded warriors.
Head coach Darrin Horn said the visit served a twofold purpose.
"We thought it was a great opportunity for us to be able to do some things to build our team and learn from, literally, the best in the world on what they do in building teams right here on Fort Jackson," Horn said. "And then also to have the opportunity to work with some young people here on the (post) and get them excited about basketball and reach out to the military community a little bit as well."
Junior forward Lakeem Jackson said he got a lot of enjoyment out of the visit, especially working with the children.
"It's great to come into this type of atmosphere right here. It's a different world," Jackson said. "When I was younger, I didn't have a lot of college guys coming up to me and my friends ... helping us with our fundamentals in basketball. It's a warm feeling inside. I really appreciate doing these things and for the coach to set up these types of things for us."
Staff Sgt. James Gladden, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, whose two sons, 9 and 5, participated in the clinic, said he appreciated the team visit, especially so close to the start of the college basketball season.
"They sacrificed a lot of time to come out and spend time with the kids on post," Gladden said.
Horn said the clinic was a way to show the team's appreciation for the military.
"We appreciate what (our troops) do. We're grateful for the sacrifice that they make and, even though it goes unnoticed a lot, they're not forgotten," Horn said. "We want them to be a part of what we're doing right here in Columbia. It seems like Fort Jackson is kind of its own little city. It's got everything that it needs. But it's also part of our Columbia community, and, we think, our University of South Carolina community. We want them to be a part of our program and want them to know that we support them and then, hopefully, they're going to support us as well."
One of the training events the players participated in was the Team Development Course.
"I thought it was great. Our guys had a lot of fun doing it, but I think more than that, they learned a lot. Our purpose was really to come out and build team. ... I think we definitely accomplished that," Horn said.
Freshman forward Anthony Gill, who said he had never been on a military installation before, said the events gave him a glimpse of what Basic Combat Training is like.
"It was fun. It was tough at first," Gill said. "(The drill sergeants) came out and started yelling at us like we were actually there, participating in the military (training). That was pretty cool to experience."
Col. Odie Sheffield, commander of the 165th Infantry Brigade, said the team's visit gave the Soldiers the opportunity to demonstrate what they do.
"It's been a fantastic day. We showed them what the life of a Soldier is like. They've kind of experienced that now," Sheffield said. "And they gave back to us with a little fan fest for the children in the neighborhood, so it's been fantastic."