Monday, July 07, 2008
Will Jones strives to provide wholesome experience. Believing that mentoring plus time on the hardwood can help youths avoid hard times later in life, former Berkeley High School basketball star Will Jones helped organize a summer basketball camp in his hometown.
Jones, 27, played for South Carolina State University after high school and is now coaching in Florida. He returns home each summer to conduct the Will Jones Future Star Basketball camp.
Though the camp has helped some young athletes reach and excel at the college level, Jones said the camp's real purpose is to provide girls and boys with a wholesome experience where they are nurtured by successful adults.
Jones recalled how his parents and coaches from school and recreation programs kept him moving in the right direction. And that's what keeps him motivated today.
"I was able to see them pushing me to be successful. I just want to give a little back to the community," he said.
"Today's kids need a place they can go that's structured, where they can have some mentoring and stay out of trouble."
The camp stresses the importance of education, and brings in guest speakers including regional high school and college basketball coaches and local community leaders. "Every one of the kids that comes through, it's beneficial to them," he said.
Now assistant basketball coach at Okaloosa-Walton Junior College in Niceville, Fla., Jones graduated from S.C. State in 2002. His coaching career has taken him to Tennessee as well as Florida. In those states, he said, he saw far more recreation programs for youths than exist back home.
Nothing like the basketball camp could be found in Berkeley County before Jones and his friends, including Moncks Corner-area recreation program coach Travis Fludd and Willis High of Delta Pharmacy, organized the first camp in 2003. The camp founders enlisted commercial sponsors to keep camp costs low for kids.
High, who is now an assistant coach at Bishop England High School and no longer involved with Jones' camps, recalled the camp's founding.
"We got a lot of people to help and give the kids something to do. They need that kind of stuff," he said.
High said the camps instill the message "that if you work hard and do the right thing, you can do it." He said he's seen the camp make positive differences in the lives of many kids. Jones "is doing a heck of a job, he's doing great things for them," High said.
Catrena J. Britton of Columbia, Jones' sister, said her brother worked with some of the top basketball camps around the country before opening his own.
"He felt the need to create a college-style camp and provide instruction and experience at a much more affordable price. In four years he has given over 200 children that opportunity," she said.
Jones tells each one of them that "if you believe, you can achieve," she said.
Jones' 2008 camp was held June 16-19 at Berkeley High School.
Preparations are being made for next year's camp.
Ages 7-16 are invited to enroll.
Applications will be available at Delta Pharmacy in Moncks Corner.
For more information call 803-378-5757 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Edward C. Fennell
The Post and Courier