The End of the Beginning

Trip Start Jul 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 01, 2011

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday (Day 28)-Today was bitter sweet, to say the least. Just when I was getting comfortable and accustomed with this group of kids camp was winding down. We started the day off with the player skills challenge. If you are at all familiar with the NBA's All Star weekend, then you know that the all star point guards run through a small obstacle course that is timed. Well our Camp had its own version of the skills challenge as the player had to make a layup, then dribble a ball the length of the court cris crossing in between cones and then make a second free throw, then throw the ball at a target and finally finish off by tossing a ball through a car tire. This is how we started the final day of camp. Everyone was screaming their lungs out cheering for their teammates and the participants were all eager to know what they timed in the event. I can tell you that I demonstrated a run through of the skills challenge to the campers and I was a bit winded afterwards, so the word "challenge" in skills challenge definitely applied in this particular activity. We announced the campers with the fastest times in each division and were ready to move onto the tournament games when a very shy camper, Yaciye rallied the campers to cheer for the coaches to give it their best shot at the skills challenge. Let's just say Coach Magaye was the crowd favorite.

We moved right along to the tournament finals. In the younger girls division it was Texas vs. Boston College. It was a close game & Boston College came out on top. (I know I love Boston teams…but I ref’d this game as fair as possible, plus I’m all about the kids) The second game of the day featured Uconn vs. Tennessee to compete for a chance to play Duke in the Women’s older division finals. Tennessee came up with the convincing win by playing great defense and moved onto the Women’s finals. The 3rd game of the day was another play in game situation featuring Kentucky vs. North Carolina for a chance to play UCLA in the first ever men’s Shooting Touch Sabbatical camp championship. North Carolina proved worthy and won the contest.

The 4th game of the day definitely had the feeling of march madness to it, so many college teams playing back-to-back.  Hampton U vs. Howard U. The battle of the “real HU” as Barack Obama put it at my graduation. The younger boys division faced off in the finals and it was a close game but our camp MVP Tafa had one too many steals as he clinched the game with a late game fast break layup for the Howard University squad. (If I was going to throw a game by calling bad calls… it would be this one, Proud Hampton Alum.) as the outcome shows I did not. The final two games of the afternoon were the Women & Men finals. Duke out willed Tennessee and UCLA showed the camp why they were the number one seed by winning despite the fact the only had five players, with one of their key guys not present at camp.

            The tee shirt presentation was special because I was able to congratulate each camper, share a few words with him or her & take a photo. Some campers laughed about some funny moments they remembered from camp and others were more emotional but each camper was happy to have participated in OUR first ever Shooting Touch Sabbatical basketball camp. It was now time to give out the hardware. Each participant left with a 2nd, 3rd place ribbon or a medallion for the 1st place winners.

The trophy presentation was next. Babaka from Kentucky of the men’s division was awarded the first ever sportsmanship award, Bebe of Stanford in the women’s division was awarded the Most Improved Player and Tafa from Howard U younger boys division was our MVP. Just when I thought we were done and everything was given out. The camp had a special surprise for me. I received a custom African pouch bag, an African necklace, an anango that is the cultural attire of the Senegalese, an “I love Senegal” tee shirt and some amazing pieces of artwork. I was in awe and so thankful for their thoughtful gesture. Today was truly a special day at camp! Wish you all were there to see it…lucky me!

And if you thought my day ended there you are sadly mistaken. I have been chosen as a volunteer and translator for the NBA’s Basketball without Borders Africa that will be hosted by Dakar, August 5-8th. I went to pay Chris Clunie a visit at the hotel where the event will be taking place. We worked as a group organizing the coaches’, campers’ and officials’ bags with donated basketball gear for the event. One chapter of my trip has just finished and another begins… The End of the Beginning.

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CONGRATS ON YOUR 1ST SESSION....JOB WELL DONE! You have me in tears of joy. Keep up the good work. I pray that the next sessions will only get better.

Love and miss you,


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