THURSDAY, JUNE 04
To many youngsters, there isn’t anything more important than playing basketball. When watching Kobe Bryant or LeBron James move up and down the court, it’s fun to imagine having the skills and lifestyle of a professional basketball player.
A camp at Oklahoma City University this summer seeks to enhance that dream of becoming a superstar athlete with an added emphasis on something even more important — life skills that youth can take with them no matter what career path they choose.
“After playing professional basketball for seven years, I realized I lacked a lot of things that could have served me well,” said Jonathan Triplett, director of the 1st Class Individuals Life Skills & Basketball Camp.
The summer camp, set for July 6-10, is designed to help boys and girls in grades four through 12 learn skills both on and off the court, Triplett noted. Along with basketball coaches from around the country and Cleveland Cavalier forward Darnell Jackson, several experts in such fields as college admissions and career assistance will be on hand to show the participants how to reach their goals when it comes to getting into college, finding good jobs and staying away from drugs and alcohol.
“You have to help kids early so they can develop into strong, successful people,” Triplett said. “During the camp they’ll learn everything from proper table etiquette to proper shooting technique while having fun the whole time. It will be an experience they’ll remember forever.”
Overnight campers will stay in dormitories on the OCU campus throughout the week, and commuting campers are also welcome. Their days will begin at 8 a.m. and they’ll stay busy until 8 p.m. Participants will eat three meals a day in the university cafeteria.
One guest speaker will likely stand out from the long list of experts. Triplett invited his friend Jackson to talk about life in the National Basketball Association. Jackson plays forward for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He played for Midwest City High School before becoming a legend for the Kansas Jayhawks.
“We used to play basketball at the old Fredrickson Fieldhouse right here at OCU,” Triplett said. “We’ve been friends for many years, and I’m honored he’ll be here to help with the camp. I’m sure the kids will enjoy his presence, too.”
For all the pomp and circumstance of living the hoop dreams, Triplett knows firsthand what it takes to be successful off the court. He earned his bachelor’s degree at OCU in 2002 after his pro career. He received his master’s degree two years later and is currently going after a second.
Triplett is the director of Intramural and Recreational Sports at OCU and is close to becoming a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.
Although he has years of experience organizing youth summer basketball camps, this will be his first time to include a series of other helpful life lessons. He plans to make the camp an annual event.
“Looking back, this is something my teammates and I would have greatly appreciated,” Triplett said. “I wasn’t very interested in life skills then. I would walk around and pretend like I was a hotshot, thinking I could have anything I wanted. But when the team would go to banquets and fancy functions we didn’t really know how to act. So you start to realize the value of living a proper life after being wrapped up in that kind of atmosphere.”
The 1st Class Individuals Life Skills & Basketball Camp is $350 for overnight participants and $200 for commuters.
For more information or to register, call (405) 208-5378 or visit www.firstclassindividuals.com.