Two churches and two college basketball teams came together Saturday to hold a basketball camp for more than 100 children.
It was the 12th year that First Baptist Church on Fifth Street and United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church’s Diversity Partnership Committee held the morning-long camp. Players and coaches from Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State University took the kids through numerous basketball drills at gyms on the WFU campus and then joined them for lunch afterwards.
“The team members will challenge them; the coaches will challenge them to do their best in school, to achieve, to have a good sense of integrity, to value their home, their school and their church and to aspire to go to college,” said Lynn Parker, First Baptist’s Diversity Committee Chair.
The relationship between the two churches goes back to the 1990s when members came together to build a Habitat for Humanity house. The Diversity Committee devises ways for the predominately white First Baptist and predominately black United Metropolitan to work jointly. The camp, which reaches a diverse group of kids from around the county, is a tradition for the Committee.
Organizer B.G. Norman, a United Metropolitan member, said teaching kids about basketball is not the most important aspect of the camp. He says the young campers gain role models through the program. He said role models played a key role in his development. Norman is pleased he can help offer others positive influences.
“Those positive things that occur in our lives, we have an obligation to do that in the lives of others,” he said.
Demon Deacons and Rams put the kids through a course of drills similar to their own training. The young campers dribbled through obstacle courses; improved their agility by stepping through a rope ladder; and learned better tips for shooting and passing.
WSSU player Ricky Perry, a junior, coached kids in the camp for a second year.
“I like working with the kids a lot,” said Perry. “Seems like they keep getting better each year.”
It was freshman Devin Thomas’ first time serving as a camp coach. The Demon Deac shared in the kids’ excitement, jumping in jubilation as they won their rounds in the “watermelon” shooting contest that ended the camp. He said he’d definitely like to do the camp again.
“I enjoy little kids,” said Thomas, “We were all once little kids.”
The campers received words of advice from coaches Jeff Bzdelik and Bobby Collins.
“If you want to do something in life, you have to work hard for it and sometimes you might not be able to do it right away,” said WFU Coach Bzdelik.
By the time they left, many of the kids had players’ autographs all over their camp shirts. WSSU Coach Collins turned the tables on the campers.
“Right now I’ve got my Sharpie in my pocket because I’m going to get the autograph of these kids because they’re the stars; it’s really about them,” Collins said.
Christiana Larned, an eighth grader at Forsyth Academy, where she plays on the basketball squad, said she signed up to sharpen her skills.
She said she found the college players to be “funny and fun to play with” and was inspired by the whole experience.
“It shows that if they can do it, we can to,” said Christiana.