After five years of being involved in the Pine Bluff Police Department Basketball Camp, former University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff head basketball coach Harold Blevins says he’s “still having fun.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to make a living playing and coaching basketball, and this is a way for me to give back,” Blevins said. “I enjoy it as much now as I did the first year I got involved in this.”
The camp, named for Blevins and sponsored by the police department, will conclude today at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. It attracted more than 140 kids ages 6 to 16.
“If it weren’t for the police department, we couldn’t do this,” Blevins said. “The idea is to get to the kids at this age so maybe they won’t have to deal with them in other ways when they get older.”
Police Officer Melissa Johnson, who has been serving as a counselor at the camp all week, said one of the goals of the camp is to help young people brush up on their basketball skills.
“Some of them had never played before so this gave them a chance to try it and see if they liked it,” Johnson said. “It also helped kids learn about things like teamwork, respect for each other and self-esteem.”
Johnson described the week-long camp as “something positive and something for the kids to do instead of being out on the streets or staying at home playing video games.”
One of those attending the camp for the first time was T’Ceana Jeffery, 9.
“I learned about offense, defense, shooting, passing and how to make layups,” she said. “If I had not been here, I probably would have been outside practicing basketball.”
Another first-timer was Tristan Rawls, 16, who said he had learned the importance of teamwork and “how to respect myself as well as other people.”
Dyllan Ashley, 12, was attending the camp for the second time, and said he had learned how to improve his shooting.
Ashley said he had not attended the camp, he would probably “be home riding my bike or playing with my GameBoy.”
In addition to the annual basketball camp, the police department has sponsored a baseball-softball camp which was conducted during spring break, and a day camp that just wrapped up.