Basketball and Beyond: High's new camp extends off the court
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Putting his name on a basketball camp is nothing new to Tshombe High.
But running one that belongs solely to him is.
Finally free of anyone else's red tape, the former Brainerd High star is doing it his way through Centurions Basketball. The group's goal is to promote the fundamentals of athletics and life in hopes of creating the opportunity for success both on and off the court.
"I have the opportunity to be a lot freer on my own, rather than being underneath someone running my camps through partners. That makes this one altogether special," said High.
The focus starts on the court, of course, where High is offering kids elementary through high school much more than basic shooting sessions and scrimmages.
Local professional trainers like Randy Webb, whose notable clients include UTC-turned-pro greats like Johnny Taylor and Gerald Wilkins, run campers through NBA-style drills that focus more on building strength, endurance and agility.
"The principles for the kids are the same principles I use for guys who play on the college and pro level," said Webb. "My goal is to help turn them into more balanced players on the court. Kids are very adaptive. Especially if they're there to learn, the sky is the limit."
But High's primary goal isn't to make his kids better basketball players. Instead it's to make them better and more well-rounded people through a foundation of education and character.
His camp includes classroom sessions to improve English skills and public speaking, and also offers advice on nutrition and healthy living.
High's hope is to offer positive influences and reinforcement early and often, and that starts simply with interaction.
"It's easy to bring kids into a gym and give them a ball and run them through drills," High said. "You can work them out and go through a lot of things, but the best part for me is getting to actually talk with the kids and talk to the parents so that we can begin to resolve issues. All it takes is taking the time to lend an ear, even if it's in the middle of practice.
"We can change kids mindsets from gang activity, from negative activity and bullying. We can change that mindset by sitting down and taking the opportunity to hear them."
Local attorney Stuart Brown, local pastor Dr. Rozario Slack and Judge Clarence Shattuck were a few of the guest speakers High enlisted to share experiences and insight from their journeys to success.
They offered motivational words and tips for overcoming adversity, many of which hit home with High's campers.
"Life can be hard. If you're not good at something, learn a new technique that may be good for you," said young Joshua Woodward, echoing a lesson he learned in camp this week.
High himself has proven to be influential for many of the high school-aged campers. His journey from Chattanooga to the pros is well-known in basketball circles around the area, so his words certainly pack a punch.
"On and off the court he motivates us," said Xavier Harris, who plays basketball at Howard. "He motivates us to work harder, go harder. He says practice makes perfect."
High knows there is neither a perfect nor a quick fix to problems facing today's youth, whether it be in the inner city or the suburbs. But with patience and persistence, he hopes to be at least a small part of a solution.
"I believe that the same slow turn it took for us to get off track is the same slow turn it's going to take to get back on track," High said. "If it comes from a coach, if it comes from a teacher or a business owner or if it comes through you, we can teach kids to do things right.
"If we can do that, I believe we can get our kids back."
For more information on High's Centurions Basketball, visit C360pro.com.