Last week, over 260 kids of all ages got the chance to take part in this year’s Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp featuring former UK Wildcat Jarrod Polson. The camp is free each summer, and is presented by Operation Unite.
“We open this up to all school aged kids.,” said Operation Unite Deputy Director Tom Vinci. “The more kids that we can bring out to the camp, the more that we can reach with the message of making good choices.”
“We’re doing this so that we can plant some seeds. Seeds of hope, and the understanding that, if you do things the right way, you can have a good life.”
In addition to gaining some valuable knowledge about the game of basketball, campers in attendance last Thursday evening at Whitley County High School also received some great advice from Polson about the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol.
“Just about every young man and young woman dreams of playing for the Wildcats,” Vinci said. “Jarrod is a good role model, and a good example of a person that was able to live out his dream because he has made good choices throughout his life.”
As for how Polson feels about getting the opportunity to work with the youth at the Shoot Hoops Not Drugs series of camps, he said, “It feels great. The kids love Kentucky basketball, and basketball in general, but really the point of this is to not only teach them some basketball drills, but also teach them how it relates to life. Hopefully they will learn some important life lessons as well along the way.”
As for the overall message that he is hoping to convey to kids through these camps, Polson explained, “It’s mostly just simple things like being in the right place at the right time. A lot of people can get into trouble just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there’s that, and also putting the right things into your body.”
“Operation Unite is trying to combat the problems that we are facing with drugs and alcohol, and we’re just trying to tell these kids at an early age to make those small positive decisions each day. It will pay huge dividends in the future.”
Polson and his team of assistants led the 2019 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camp from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at WCHS Thursday of last week. During that time, all campers received instruction on ball handling and shooting, as well as proper defensive techniques.
They were fed dinner in the school’s cafeteria before being dismissed, and everyone went home with an autographed t-shirt and basketball. Two lucky campers, one boy and one girls, won a drawing for a pair of basketball goals. All of this at absolutely no cost to the families of the kids attending the event thanks to the efforts of Operation Unite.