They’ve got skills: Blount County African-American Youth Council basketball camp brings youth together
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fifty youth ages 9-14 got the chance to brush up on their basketball skills and test their teamwork at the first-ever camp hosted by the Blount County African-American Youth Council.
The Men in Community/Men in Christ were also part of the project, along with the local Parks and Rec.
Council member Bill Dickerson organized the summer fun and enlisted the help of Randall Cobb Sr., Sidney Scott, Jason Tipton, Elijah Dickerson, T.D. Blackmon and Terry Martin, who coached the teams. Dickerson said there were 50 boys and girls who took part in the camp activities, which included basketball drills and challenges. The students practiced free throws, three-point shots, defense and dribbling. Those sessions took place July 8 and 9 at Springbrook Recreation Center in Alcoa. The next day, the youth were invited to attend a cookout that served as the opening of league play. Dickerson said there were 32 boys and girls who played in the league. Games were held each Thursday during July.
Then last week, the final night of league play, the teams came together for a cookout at Springbrook Park.
Chianti Woodlee of MIC and Sissy Ferguson of Parks and Rec. were also instrumental in making this project a success. Also lending their talents were referees Thad Blackmon and Derek Williams. Patty Dickerson and Mercedes Dickerson served as clock operators. Jimmie and Shari McRae, Kelvin Richardson, Tommy Wimbley and Shaun Love were part of the camp and league as well.
“This was something the Lord laid on my heart,” Dickerson explained. He said there was no cost to participants.
It did take a lot of community members coming together to make this a success. Sponsors included the Randall Cobb Foundation, Kroger, Walmart, and Allcor Staffing. Each student that participated received a water bottle, drawstring pack, certificate and T-shirt.
Vans were also used to take the boys and girls from the MLK Center to Springbrook each Thursday for games.
“It was a team effort,” Dickerson said. “That was the message we wanted to convey. We put players together who hadn’t played together before so they could establish new relationships and friendships.”
There are already plans to make this an annual event, Dickerson said. Dates for next year will be mid-June to mid-July, he said, making sure not to interfere with football practice.
It turned out to be a great time for these youth, the director said. Instructors have much to smile about as well. That’s reason enough to do it again next year.