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Clyde Turner Basketball Camp At East Phillips Park Cultural & Community Center-17th Ave. & Phillips Community Center-13th Ave.

Coach Karim Jackson says, “Stretch you arms way out!” “Keep them up.” “Now you have it! “That’s Good!”

Is MORE than Basketball!

BY CAROL PASS

The highlight of summer for hundreds of Phillips kids is the Clyde Turner Youth Basketball Camp. Approximately eighty boys and girls from nine to seventeen years of age filled the East Phillips Park Gym the week of August 14th and the Phillips Community Center the week earlier. They came for basketball and got a whole lot more. Clyde Turner’s Camp is an Educational Basketball Academy where basketball is utilized as a conduit to learning skills and skill application for success on and off the court. It provides sport opportunities for group social learning, leadership, development of good decision-making skills and a sense of accountability. The Camp is made possible by a partnership with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC), Minneapolis Parks & Rec. and Past Athletes Concerned About Education (PACE).

I saw this unique concept unfold on Thursday as the gym started to fill at 11:00 AM. Clyde called the group to order at a little after 11:30 and introduced Dequon Oliver.  Dequon was one of the youth in Clyde’s Basketball Camp twenty plus years ago. He is now a business man and owns a very successful barber/beauty shop in the area. Before basketball coaching and practice began, Dequon gave an inspiring talk about how his dream came true and challenged the youth in his audience to DREAM big as well. He counseled the kids to equate the “R” in DREAM to the word “Resource” – ie, find resources such as parents, school, church, etc. to help realize their dream. The “E” is to “Educate” yourself in-order-to prepare for the dream. “A” is to “Apply” yourself in all you do, and “M” is keep yourself “Motivated” in all decisions on your way to your goal. He then asked the youth to share their dreams which included the law, farming, politics, human and veterinarian medicine, and many more wonderful DREAMS all of which he assured, would be attained. A few of the youth wore Clyde Turner t-shirts which read; “Work Hard, Play Hard, Study Hard – Excel in Life – Beat the Odds”.

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As the basketball part of Camp got started, Clyde led the kids in a rigorous round of stretching and limbering exercises. Yes, I said Clyde led the kids, doing exercises many 16-year-olds struggled with. As the day progressed, his staff of coaches quickly split the youth into age and ability compatible groups and led them in ball handling, dribbling, defensive and offensive drills, all stressing teamwork and sportsmanship as well as improving their basketball skills. It was amazing to see the coordinated effort that over the week turned kids into basketball players and gave them all life lessons to build their futures on.

Clyde enlists the help of many coaches for the kids, most of whom were one-time participants in his camps and all played college and/or professional basketball. In his words, “We try to include a strong life component in our camps. Obviously, we preach basketball fundamentals, teamwork, and sportsmanship, but we also incorporate the importance of having educational goals and career aspirations.” (GopherHole.com, May 24, 2004). A big part of Clyde’s goal is to serve the kids of economically challenged neighborhoods and, especially, to open the doors wider to the youth of the Native American Community.

Turner, after a stellar two years as a Gopher Basketball player in the early 1970s and a shot at the pros, returned to the U of M, got a master’s degree in social work and devoted his life to helping children and families in the Twin Cities. He served for years in the leadership of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, he put in 13 years with the Family Alternatives Program, managed the Child Protection Program for Ramsey County and this is his 31st year of providing what this gym full of kids have been waiting all summer for, the Clyde Turner Basketball Camp.

Our thanks to Clyde Turner and his wonderful coaches for offering a fantastic life experience to the youth of Phillips.

TC Daily Planet – Feb.1, 2011

The Breaks of the Game on the court and off

Dedicated basketball fans seeing or reading about Turner BB Camps will undoubtedly be reminded of The Breaks of the Game, one of the best (if not the best) basketball books of all time by David Halberstam about the Portland Trailblazers in the late 70s. It talks about highs of their championship team (considered one of the best teams at playing as a unit of all time because of each player’s self-sacrifice) and how quickly things unraveled over the next three seasons. It also explores issues of racism in America, classism, white privilege, and labor rights and disputes.

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