By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideAugust 6, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Above the sound of screeching tennis shoes and basketballs hitting the rim of the net, Methodist University basketball coach, David Smith, blew his whistle loudly, calling all the children to the center of the gym's court. As he spoke to them about teamwork and helping others, the children stared wide-eyed, listening to every word.
Child, Youth and School Services hosted it's annual basketball summer camp the week of July 26 to 30 at Tolson Youth Activities Center. With the help of the Methodist University men's basketball team, Smith lead the week-long techniques camp for children six years old and up for his twelfth year. When Smith got the call from Tolson asking him to lead the basketball camp again, he said he leapt at the opportunity. Being a military brat himself, Smith said this was a way to give back.
"I tell them my dad went away to Vietnam and I missed him," he said. "They seem to relate to my experience and appreciate it because there are a lot of children in here that have deployed parents and are going through the same thing."
This year, the camp hosted about 70 children. Smith said he remembered when he first started and there were only 25 to 30 children who participated. Not only did the men's basketball team from MU help with the camp, the women's team has participated in the past. Even though the women's team wasn't able to participate this year, the team's female trainer and a sister of team member helped out.
"We have about 20 to 25 girls participating this year," Smith said. "We need to provide good role models for these (children)."
For the past three years, Brianna Magee, 12, has participated in the basketball camp and thinks it's great. A seventh grader this school year, she will be taking the skills she learned and put them to good use to try out for her school's basketball team.
"I learned a lot of different moves, how to handle the ball, and how to shoot," Magee said. "But mostly the drills are helpful."
Josh Wawrzyniak, 8, said he learned a lot about handling the ball and really seemed to enjoy being taught different dribbling techniques.
"It's really good," Wawrzyniak said. "And it's fun."
According to Antwin Shuford, a former Army servicemember and a Methodist University athlete, the camp teaches the children everything that deals with basketball such as ball handling, movement drills, rebounding and teamwork.
"I enjoy this," Shuford said. "If you can get just one kid to improve and help them do what they love, it's a success."