Hoops camp proves blessing to all involved
By Kelvin Ray Boyd | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It was almost all about the kids when the 13th Stars of Tomorrow Free Basketball Camp (STFBC), hit the court Friday and Saturday at William Blount High School. Around 200 individuals, boys and girls ages 8-18, participated in the two-day camp.
“This was our biggest camp yet,” STFBC founder Loren James Riddick, a former basketball player at William Blount and ETSU, said. “We had just under 200 campers, 40 volunteers and councilors, and around 50 spectators. That is roughly 300 people involved with the program.”
Former Heritage standout and Lady Vol Cait McMahan was a councilor/guest speaker at the camp over the weekend. She said campers had more than a little fun at the camp. “I like seeing the kids happy,” she said. “It blesses me.”
Councilors and guest speakers covered the basics of the game and beyond. “We went over every facet of the game,” Riddick, said. “We talked about being champions on and off the court. We had guest speakers such as former ETSU and NBA basketball player Keith Russell ‘Mister’ Jennings, ETSU great Calvin Talford, and Maryville College men’s head basketball coach Randy Lambert.”
First-time camper Tamir Greenlee, age 10, enjoyed his experience at STFBC. “I had a great time,” he said. “We learned a lot about sportsmanship. I really like that I was able to learn how to shoot the ball.”
Some parents like the program as much as the campers do. “All three of my boys are in the camp,” Terri Foxx, age 42, said. “I have two twins, age 9, and a 11 year old. The camp brings all the kids together, and they have fun and learn. I hope (STFBC) continues.”
At the end of the camp, participants received items such as a basketball and a shirt. Perhaps the greatest gifts received were those that were intangible. “The knowledge they receive here is priceless,” said former NBA and ETSU basketball player Greg Dennis. “The kids are getting a good foundation regarding basketball and they are learning life skills.
“The best part is that it is all free. That is unusual in today’s society; all of the sports camps want money. I think the fact that the camp is free gives the camp a family friendly atmosphere.”
The camp is also unofficially a reunion of ETSU basketball teammates from the late 80s to the early 90s, a group that Riddick was once affiliated with. “We get to see each other once year through the camp,” Dennis said. “Some of us also bring our children to participate in the program. It is a chance to have great fellowship.”
This year’s camp had more people, which in turn meant more expenses. “The financial burden was bigger than ever,” Riddick said. “We had wonderful sponsors, and we had to put more into it than I thought. However, it’s all worth it because it goes to an outstanding cause.”
Ultimately, Riddick is grateful for the chance to have a free basketball camp year after year. “I am blessed, humble, and thankful to bring an awesome array of talent and positive energy to the children and the community of Blount County.”