By THERESA SHADRIX
Special to the Banner
Published Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:00 AM EDT
When Kevin “Coach T” Templeton speaks, everyone around him listens.
“You need to thank the person who brought you here today. You need to have an attitude of gratitude.” As he spoke these words to more than 320 junior high and high school basketball players and their coaches at Lee University, June 15, the gym was silent and respectful. Only moments before, he presented championship awards to male and female players who excelled in an intense five day basketball camp that bears his name.
This week, Templeton started the camp over again with a new group of around 370 campers and 50 coaches. Over the two week period, teams traveled from Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Ohio and the Carolina’s to live in Lee University dorms, play basketball games, hear from dynamic speakers, receive biblical guidance and learn as much as possible from Templeton and the camp staff. It has been a tiring two weeks for all involved, but you won’t find anyone complaining because the foundations of the camp are the love of the game and training in values.
Templeton said he believes basketball players should take advantage of lessons in life, both on and off the court, and he hopes campers take home more than learning how to dribble. He has an old-school coaching mentality of grit, determination and hard work. A man of faith, he is humble, but not timid to admit he loves the taste of glory. “Life is not going to be 30-0. So, you gotta press on, you gotta get up and you don’t give up,” he said. “If you learn not to give up on the basketball court, you won’t give up in life.”
Templeton is no stranger to coaching basketball. He was the athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, winning the National Christian College Athletic Association championship in 2003.
In March he resigned from TTU and will be the new boy’s basketball coach at Soddy-Daisy High School. Templeton said TTU will always be special to him not only because of his successful coaching experience, but also the summer basketball camps that began at TTU 25 years ago. It was nine years ago that Templeton took over the camp and every year he has mentored more and more players and coaches.
“The first year we had 129 campers and then it went to 800 in two years,” he said. “Last year we had 1200 campers at Chattanooga.” When he resigned his position at TTU, he sent out emails to various schools to find a new host. Lee University agreed to hold the summer camp in conjunction with Templeton, making the Cleveland campus the new home of “Coach T’s Basketball Camp.” Templeton said that he feels great about having the camp at Lee, not only because of the comforts and safety on the campus, but also the expertise of the coaching staff, led by Lee’s head basketball coach, Tommy Brown.
“The staff at the camp is more than Coach T. Tommy is here, I have my son Josh helping, I have Marty Rowe, I have other coaches,” he said. “So, if you want to learn basketball, play team games, get individual instruction, and learn how to be a winner, this is the camp for you.” Beyond the campus and coaches, Templeton said the camp is a basketball players dream come true. Days and nights are filled with hard corp hoops, with games playing until midnight. It is this environment of hoops and dedication to the game that lures teams to the camp every year.
In his second trip to the camp, Coach Jon Werle of, Hebron Christian in Dacula, Ga., said he brought four teams, two girls and two boys, to the camp because of the staff expertise, the basketball games and the combination of teaching. “The whole player is addressed, both off and on the court. They grow together as a team and they grow together as basketball players because they are exposed to a high level of coaching.”
When so many summer basketball camps take place in local towns, Templeton said he is humbled for teams like Werle’s to travel to his camp. And coaches admit they will follow Templeton wherever he goes.
Coach Chris Randall of White Plains High School in Anniston, Ala. first attended the basketball camp at TTU as a player with Trinity Christian Academy in Oxford, Ala. more than 18 years ago. For six years he traveled to Chattanooga as a camper and when he began his coaching career, he started bringing his teams. Last week, Randall’s junior varsity and high school team won the camp championship game and the junior high team placed fourth. After taking his team home, he returned this week with another group of players. He said it is worth it because of the basketball fundamentals and concept of team play. Year and year he also returns so his players can improve their game, hear the speakers, receive spiritual instruction and be part of the caring attitude from Templeton and the staff.
“They are going to learn a lot more about life. They will hear testimonies from other men and players. More importantly, they will learn how to be a better man through basketball,” he said. “You can’t put a price on lessons they will learn here.”
Oddly enough, White Plains basketball rival, Faith Christian School in Anniston, Ala., also attends the camp every year. When playing each other at the camp, Faith Coach Doug Worlsey said they each want to win, but when the teams are playing another school, they are rooting for their hometown neighbor.
“We have a good competition and we want them to do well,” he said. “Coach Randall and I are rivals on the court, but we are brothers in Christ off the court.”
Worsley brought two middle school teams to the camp, with one placing second in the championship last week. Despite the fact he attended the camp for nine years as both a coach and a staff member, he said he comes back every summer because he gets something new from the camp every year. “Knowledge about basketball is infinite. I watch other coaches all day because everyone knows something about the game.” In his second year as the basketball coach at Faith Christian, Worsley said he can already see the impact of the camp on his players.
“They hear speakers constantly talking about choices in life,” he said. “People are going to tell them about basketball but also about the truth of life. And the truth of life is Jesus Christ.”
Theresa Shadrix is the managing editor of Longleaf Style magazine and special publications editor for The Anniston Star, Anniston, Ala. She is a former student at Cleveland State Community College, where she was sports editor and features writer for The Cherokee Signal. Theresa is the sister of Carl Maskew, a detective with the Bradley County Sheriff Office and his wife, Karen and the daughter of Harold Maskew. She lives in Anniston with her husband, Mickey, and two sons.
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