Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide basketball players host free kids’ camp

Caitlin Trotter

While many college students were lying in bed on Saturday morning, members of the University of Alabama men’s basketball team were giving back to the Tuscaloosa community.

Eight current members of the Crimson Tide, along with former Alabama forward Tony Mitchell, coached a free camp held at the Community Outreach and Development Center at Plum Creek Baptist Church. The camp was hosted in conjunction with Serrell Dental, an Alabama-based organization that provides low-cost dental services to families and reaches out to communities in hopes of benefiting the growth of children’s character.

“One of the components of Serrell Dental is to give back to the community, and what a way to be able to do that through sports,” Sue Hipsher, marketing director for Serrell Dentistry and wife of Alabama basketball assistant Dan Hipsher, said. “Kids really enjoy it, and we just wanted to share some of the talent in the area with the kids in Alabama who might not have the chance to ever meet these players.”

The camp was coached entirely by the Alabama basketball team. The Tide players set up four stations to further the campers’ experience with basketball skills and guide them toward positions of leadership on the basketball court and in their young lives.

“Some of these kids will take a lot out of this and learn and develop themselves into young men and women and listen and see what they can do to become better in life,” rising sophomore guard Trevor Lacey said.

At one station, Tide center Moussa Gueye lifted a six-year-old boy to the rim to simulate a dunk after teaching the campers to make free throws. On the other side of the court, forward Levi Randolph was engaging his group of young players in a dribbling drill.

Guards Ben Eblen and Rodney Cooper, along with other Alabama teammates, coached rebounding, defensive techniques and other basketball skills while showing the campers how to maintain a positive attitude.

Guard Andrew Steele held a fifth station in the upstairs lounge of the community center. This station focused on aspects of character that would help the young players become leaders. He relayed the importance of setting goals and maintaining habits that would help the campers both on and off the basketball court.

“Everywhere you go, people are going to be watching everything you do,” Steele said to a group of 20 high-school players. “Habits. You build them up, and they make your character.”

Each Tide player said they enjoyed working with the kids. They were aware of the impact their presence at the camp could have on the young players, and they hoped they were able to teach the campers something about basketball and maybe even life.

“Kids at a young age need a positive influence,” Steele said. “Me and all of my teammates can look back, and we had someone take time to come back and be that positive influence. We want to be good role models. A lot of times you see athletes making the pages for the wrong reasons. I think we need to try to be proactive and get out there and be good role models.”

The Tide players were able to lead the campers by example as they displayed their talents on the court. Cheers arose from the crowd as they took turns dunking. They impressed the young players with skillful shooting and were bombarded with smiling campers when they announced they would sign autographs. The Tide players shared in the campers’ happiness. As they helped boys and girls in the community who may become tomorrow’s future basketball stars, the Alabama players wore smiles that never left their faces.

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