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|Posted by:||Jul 30th 2004, 10:19:44 am|
An island-hooping journey
Fort Lauderdale's Wesley Frater and ex-NBA players Wali Jones and Tim Hardaway are embarking on a goodwill mission to the Caribbean.
By FABIAN LYON
When sports management director Wesley Frater returned to his native Jamaica in 2001 for a summer vacation, it marked his first visit to the Caribbean island in 35 years.
Frater soon realized he had been away far too long.
Frater, the president and founder of West Sports Management and Tournament of Champions Inc., said he was moved by the sight of children walking barefoot to school.
''That visit changed my life,'' said Frater, a Fort Lauderdale resident. ``Seeing something like that makes you appreciate things more. I am in a business where players might wear a sneaker once and then throw it away. There are kids there that have to walk three miles each way to school barefooted.''
On Wednesday, Frater, along with Wali Jones, vice president of community relations for the Heat, embarked on a tour of schools in the Bahamas and Jamaica to distribute sneakers, basketball rims, uniforms and basketballs. They're also providing a series of free clinics.
This is the fourth straight year Frater -- who organizes events, including the Nike All-Star basketball games and Zo's Summer Groove basketball clinic -- and Jones have collaborated on this goodwill mission to the Caribbean.
''This is personal,'' Frater said. ``I decided four years ago that, for once, I am just going to think about somebody else.''
Tim Hardaway, a former All-Star point guard with the Heat, along with North Broward Prep boys' basketball coach Danny Haney, also have taken an interest and will conduct camps in Jamaica that run today through Tuesday.
Frater, who pays for the transportation of equipment donated by schools in Broward and Miami-Dade, said Nike, Air Jamaica and Superclubs will cover other expenses, such as plane tickets for Hardaway and Haney.
Last weekend, Frater made his first stop on Andros Islands in the Bahamas, followed by Eleuthera and then Nassau.
From there, the contingent headed to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for a Celebrity Basketball Festival that will be highlighted by a coaches clinic. A VIP cocktail reception, to be attended by Wykeham McNeil, Jamaica's minister of state, will kick off the four-day event today.
The focus of the tour is to promote basketball in a region that has produced such NBA stars as Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Tim Duncan (Virgin Islands) and Rick Fox, Raja Bell and Mychal Thompson (Bahamas), but still ranks behind traditional sports soccer and track in popularity.
Frater approached Hardaway, who owns two successful business ventures -- Hardaway's House of Wings and Hardaway's U.S. 1 Finest Hand Car Wash. The five-time NBA All-Star jumped at the chance to assist the worthy cause.
''To be able to go down there and teach some kids the game makes me feel great,'' Hardaway said. ``There are a lot of good athletes down there. It's just a matter of them learning how to play basketball the right way. You never know. There might be another Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing or Mychal Thompson down there.''
While the opportunity to meet an NBA superstar will be the event's biggest draw, campers also will participate in an educational workshop designed to teach life skills and the importance of education.
''We are not really preparing these kids for pro ball,'' said Jones, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers' 1967 championship team. 'We're getting them ready for success as scholar-athletes for life. We are telling them what they need to be a good high school athlete. We tell them, `Use basketball -- don't let basketball use you.' ''
|Posted by:||Jul 30th 2004, 10:12:49 am|
|Fig Tree News Team||Andrew Johnson and the entire Briland Park project team are happy to report the awesome success of yesterday's NBA basketball camp, held on the grounds of the just-finished basketball courts at the brand-new Harbour Island park.
NBA champions Scottie Pippen, Rick Fox, Byron Scott and many others held the attention of hundreds of Briland youngsters ** Piston, Laker, Bull, Kings, Heat, Magic, Clipper, Spurs-fans-in-training, all ** and their parents at yesterday's hands-on skills training.
Congratulations to Andrew, Warren Grant, Natasha Shepard, Anthony Dean and the entire Briland Park committee, and best wishes for their continued success as they complete the renovation of the Harbour Island bayshore. Thanks go to Warren Grant's family, who hosted the NBA athletes during their visit to Harbour Island.
See you at next year's camp!
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