POINT PLEASANT — Michael Jordan may have a run for his money after this week due to the skills many local children will have learned from the Trinity United Methodist Church’s Upward Basketball Camp.
Nathan Fowler, Upward Sports League Director at the church, stated this was the first year the church is holding the event and hopes that it will help interest children in participating in the actual Upward Basketball League the church will be holding in the wintertime.
In preparation for this event, Fowler and the rest of his team of volunteers were told to expect around 30 children, a fairly reasonable number considering the program is new. The community met that number and left it in the in dust when 62 children from kindergarten through sixth grade showed up for the first day of this camp. Beginning at 9 a.m., the three hour long camp consisted of several different activities and stations for the kids. Following the welcome, team huddle and a few warm-ups, the kids divided up into different groups and each stopped at a different station where they learned a certain basketball related skill. The six stations included footwork, ball handling and dribbling, shooting, passing and receiving, defensive, and rebounding.
After a few water breaks, there was also a presentation from a guest speaker, as well as a time set aside for a devotion and scripture learning. While describing the program, Fowler brought up a quote from the founder of Upward Sports, Caz McCaslin, which was the following: “It is a race to the heart of a child and the first one there wins.” Fowler continued, saying after he heard this quote he wanted to become involved with this program in order to help reach children in the local community in a positive way.
“Upward Sports is able to connect with kids in their formative years,” Fowler said. He continued, stating the kids will be able to learn and play sports like basketball and have a fun time, as well as learn about the ministry of Jesus in a non-threatening way.
“I think it’s a great experience and a great opportunity for the kids,” Fowler said.
Not only was this the first time the church was holding this event, but this is also the first event in the church’s new building, titled the Trinity Christian Community Center. Longtime church member Graham Stanley spoke to the Point Pleasant Register on the new accommodations and some of the plans for the usage of the new space. In addition to the basketball court, the building includes a stage equipped with dressing rooms backstage, several storage rooms, restrooms with a shower, as well as a family bathroom, and a kitchen. Stanley said the church’s kitchen is pretty elaborate, so the need for an elaborate kitchen in this facility wasn’t necessary. The kitchen will be equipped with the normal kitchen items like a refrigerator and stove, but Stanley described it as a place to prepare snacks and it will serve much like a concession stand, but not a place to prepare full meals.
Since it will be a facility that holds numerous events including children, Stanley described several ways they made the building safer for the children. One aspect is not having doors on the entrances to the restroom. Stanley described it as an “airport style” restroom; one simply has to walk around the corner and enter the restroom. Also in the building is a 12 foot wall of carpet surrounding the gym floor. This not only helps alleviate some of the loud sounds, but provides a softer, cushion-like barrier if children happen to run in to it. Stanley also added that everything is also handicap accessible.
There is also a second floor in the building that is still somewhat under construction. Stanley stated some of their ideas for the second floor include some bleachers for spectators to watch the sporting events, as well as some classrooms to serve as meeting spaces for the church, as well as for the community.
“We want it to be used by the community,” Stanley said about the building.
Stanley added some of the other sporting events they hope to use the building for are archery, indoor soccer, volleyball, badminton, and cheerleading, as well as other events like wedding receptions and other meetings.
Stanley said the idea of this building first came about around five years ago. Construction on the building began in Sept. 2011 and Stanley said that Monday was considered the completion date. The camp, which began Monday, will continue through Wednesday.