My third adventure of summer 2019 includes kids, children, and small humans. Okay, those all mean the same thing, so you get the point. For the past 20+ years, the GU men’s and women’s basketball programs at Greenville University take a week out of their summer to host a basketball camp we call Panther Basketball Academy. This was my third year being able to take part in this camp, and as always, it was a week to remember.
Before I tell you about this summer’s panther academy experience, it is imperative that I inform you of my previous year's experience. My first year, I met my best friend for the first time. Her name is Mary Ashley, and the reason I met her then was that her dad, George Barber, is the men’s coach. And she is the head administrator for the camp, which basically means she plans the whole thing, and solves any problems that arise before, during, or after camp. Yeah, she has lots of responsibility, and she does it so well. As if my panther experience could get any better, the next year is when I decided to change my major to English Education. Both of my parents have teaching degrees, so I tried really hard to deny that fate. During my second year of panther academy, God showed up in the most moving way. My conversations and prayers I had with the players during last summer led me to the decision to change my major to English Education with hopes of continuing on to grad school after graduating from GU to earn a masters in guidance counseling. If it wasn’t for panther, who knows what I would be doing with my life. I might not have met my best friend, and I might not have found my calling as a future teacher, coach, and guidance counselor.
So entering my third year of this camp, I had big expectations. My past experience was life-changing, so I was expecting the same. However, that is not what I received. This year’s camp was great, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t anything like the first two years. Still, God showed me that he speaks to us when we least expect it. Even so, I had such a fun week! My team made it to the championship game (We lost, but it’s not about the winning and losing!) and I got to teach kids about basketball, Jesus, and life. The theme for the week was “Sweep the Sheds.” Wondering what that means? It means to do the small things that need to be done. It created an atmosphere of putting yourself aside and doing what is best for the group as a whole. During camp, it meant picking up trash laying on the ground, cheering loudly for teammates, and working hard for the person next to you. These kids learned a lot, and I am honored to have been a part of it. Coaching at the camp only excites me more for my future as an educator and coach.
Panther Basketball Academy is a tradition that will continue to grow, so if you are someone you know would be interested or has children that might be interested, keep your eyes peeled to register for next summer!