April 29, 2011
For Immediate Release
|The group prays before beginning the one-day basketball clinic, which was an event at Campbellsville University held for those boys who have had “good behavior” from Lincoln Village, a boys’ detention center in Hardin County. (Campbellsville University Photo by Chris Megginson)|
By Chris Megginson, sports information director
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Camp time around Campbellsville University is about to hit full swing. But before campers from across the Commonwealth and Southeast come to campus for Christian camps or sports camps, one class worked recently to combine the two elements in a recent project.
|John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, talks with the students from Lincoln Village. Dr. John Hurtgen, dean of the School of Theology, and Dr. Ted Taylor, whose Christian coaching class the students observed, assisted Chowning.(Campbellsville University Photo by Chris Megginson)|
Dr. Ted Taylor’s Christian coaching class hosted a one-day basketball clinic that also featured an opportunity for a gospel presentation. Only the campers were not paying their way to the camp with money, but good behavior.
Returning adult student Mike Smith, 54, is in charge of recreation at a boys’ detention center, Lincoln Village, in Hardin County, Ky. A student in Taylor’s class, Smith decided to bring some of his boys to a Campbellsville basketball game in February. After Taylor learned of Smith’s position, the two joined together with the idea of the clinic.
“I knew it would be good for people in our class to pull off something like this. I wanted our class to know how much it would take to pull off an event like this from getting the event and working out the details,” Taylor said.
Smith, while wanting to help his classmates gain hands-on experience, had another idea in mind.
The boys are wards of the state in a program for good behavior that can last as short as 17 weeks, if all goes well, though some have been there much, much longer.
“To make a week means you have to say ‘Yes Sir,’ ‘Yes Ma’am,’ go to bed on time, don’t talk back, you know all of the skills we want our youth to have,” Smith said. “You can imagine they struggle with that. Some of them we have as long as a year.”
Ford is one those long-term residents. After more than six months at Lincoln Village, he decided it was time he went home. Smith’s option for the chance to play some ball with good behavior, helped motivate Ford and the other boys.
“I want to go home now,” Ford said. “They said I could go (to the clinic), so I kept making my weeks so I can go.”
“We kept it in front of them. We talked about it a god bit, put up fliers and got (CU) T-shirts ahead of time. It worked,” said Smith. “This has been a benefit for them, but for the 17 I brought, there’s another 23 or 24 that couldn’t come.”
The clinic was focused on basketball for two reasons. One was the resource of talented teachers, as former CU Lady Tiger Kristi Ensminger is a graduate assistant for Taylor and a natural choice to lead the clinic. She was able to recruit fellow Lady Tigers Courtney Danis and Whitney Ballinger to help teach skills as well as former Tiger junior varsity player Logan Hazelwood.
The other had a little to do with location.
“The boys love basketball. After all they’re in the state of Kentucky,” Smith said.
The group of boys were divided into four teams and rotated through skill stations in the morning before playing in a tournament later in the day. Ensminger led the group through defensive drills, while Danis taught jump shots and Ballinger taught rebounds and passing. Hazelwood worked on dribbling. The whole class pulled together to help teach team building exercises.
“Our motto is encouraging teamwork and self respect. I think it’s big for the guys to be able to see teams out here, and knowing that some of these guys in class here may have come from rough backgrounds, but now they’re a college athlete,” Ensminger said.
The rough background was something at least one of Smith’s classmates could relate to. CU senior football player Jeffrey Demary of Columbia, S.C. was in full coach mode with the boys. While he enjoyed the chance to coach and have fun with the boys, it was the opportunity to share and motivate them that matters the most.
“I can relate to some of these kids,” Demary said. “Growing up, I had been through some of the stuff they’ve been through … The difference between me and them is, that some of the bad things that I did in my life, I didn’t get caught. By talking with them, it shows them where I am today and where they can be at.”
Between the skill session and tournament play, the boys were presented the gospel over lunch.
Hazelwood, a senior pastoral ministries major from Harrodsburg, Ky., gave the lunchtime message.
“It’s cool to be able to see how the skills God gave me opens up so much to build relationships and advance the gospel,” Hazelwood said.
“That’s what’s so cool about a day like this, is to be able to come in and hang out and show them it’s not just a pastor, preacher or Bible thumper. It’s just a normal guy who plays ball.”
In the weeks since the event, Smith said the boys’ behavior continues to be on track.
“We made a difference in some of the boys just to get down here, and that was the significant part of it. Now we’re maintaining day-to-day,” Smith said.
He and Taylor both hope the event is something that can become a regular part of the Christian coaching class.
“It was great for us. If the university is good with it, we’d come back,” Smith said. “I’ve been here a year and a half now and (the university’s) been really good to me.”
“It’s a win-win for us and them, and it fits within our mission of what we’re doing here at Campbellsville University,” Taylor said.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 63 undergraduate programs, 17 master’s degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.