Great Place youth become game changers

By Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJune 27, 2024

A group of kids and a man huddle together in a circle and put their hands in.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Marcus Smart, guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, huddles with the basketball clinic participants June 22, 2024, at Comanche Youth Center at Fort Cavazos, Texas. (Photo Credit: Photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
A kid jumps up as he releases a basketball in the air while on a basketball court.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Camryn Jackson, 14, makes a layup during the Marcus Smart Basketball Clinic June 22, 2024, at Audie Murphy Middle School at Fort Cavazos, Texas. (Photo Credit: Photo by Blair Dupre, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — More than 100 Fort Cavazos children participated in the Marcus Smart Basketball Clinic Saturday.

During the clinic the children, ages 5 to 18, were taught some fundamentals of the game by volunteers of Smart’s organization YounGameChangers, using a plethora of drills that focused on different elements of basketball including footwork, proper shooting form and how to be a team player. This is the second year the Marcus Smart Basketball Clinic has been hosted at Fort Cavazos.

Shane Rogers, clinics director for YounGameChangers, said the purpose of the free clinic was not only to increase the basketball skills of participants but also to give them life skills.

“Sports … talks about adversity,” he said. “It talks about trying to work together as a team, learning new skills and how to adapt to those. For us … everybody here staff-wise has been influenced through basketball. Whether that’s currently coaching, whether that’s playing in high school or college for some of us — it’s something that we feel we have a little bit of knowledge about and can instill those skills and life skills more than anything else.

“It’s important for Marcus and his foundation to give back to the youth,” he continued. “The title of it is ‘YounGameChanger.’ We are trying to impact the youth and teach them life skills through basketball. Marcus has been a great influence in the community. Being able to do it at an Army base is great, and we have some pride not only in the youth, but also in our country.”

Vickie Jackson, Youth Sports and Fitness director, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said the event was incredibly important to the kids at Fort Cavazos.

“These kids don’t get the opportunity like some of these big cities to get engaged in something like this with an NBA, NFL player or whatever the case may be,” she said. “For somebody like (Smart) to come here — (the children) are ecstatic. I’m thankful that he’s coming here for our kids on the installation.”

Other than learning the fundamentals of basketball and putting them into practice, the children were also given free T-shirts, and some were recognized for their merit during the clinic.

“It’s so fun,” 14-year-old clinic participant Camryn Jackson said of the clinic. “It’s cool to learn and be engaged and learn more about basketball. (Smart) has made it to the top level of basketball that you can make it to and it’s good to learn from somebody that’s been there.”

After a brief demonstration by the children of what they learned during the clinic, Smart, guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, answered some of youths’ burning questions before taking a group photo with them. He thanked the children for participating and thanked the parents for their service.

“Without you guys, this wouldn’t be possible,” he said.

For more information on upcoming Youth and Fitness events, visit

For more information on Smart’s YounGameChanger Foundation and its other programs, visit