Maysville holds youth sports character camp

Maysville holds youth sports character camp

Steven Lawson directed a drill Tuesday at the second annual Gamechangers Jr. NBA youth sports character camp. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News

MAYSVILLE — It’s more than drills being learned at this camp.

Tuesday kicked off the second annual Gamechangers Jr. NBA youth sports character camp at Maysville Elementary. The two-day camp focused not just on the basketball aspect, but building morals and character in the process.

“A lot of kids don’t realize what character is,” Gamechangers Founder Eldridge Paige said. “They don’t know what it is to have great integrity, so when you bring that to their attention and they get a better understanding of it, they can work on building their character like they work on their basketball game.”

More than 30 basketball players between the ages of 10-18 came out to the Maysville Elementary gym in a camp with the first hour being dedicated to learning life lessons and important character traits such as integrity, loyalty, humility and authenticity.

Zarion Hobbs, a rising fifth-grader at Maysville Elementary, said he was excited about the opportunity.

“I love playing basketball and I wanted to get some extra work in,” Hobbs said.

Maja Brown, a rising freshman at Jones Senior, said he knew he could get better overall under Paige’s tutelage.

“I wanted to learn from Coach Eldridge Paige and work on my game as well,” Brown said. “I heard about who he was and I’ve had the chance to learn about character and integrity.”

Steven Lawson, who helped facilitate the camp as a drill instructor, said ethics are even more important than just playing the game.

“We know everyone can play ball, but the biggest tests come with character,” Lawson said. “College coaches and recruiters aren’t just talking to the high school coaches — they talk to a player’s guidance counselor, principal, classmates. They want to see what kind of person the player is and that can dictate where that player ends up going.”

Paige said the life lessons taught at the camp will be even more essential.

“Their character will always outlast their talent,” Paige said. “What we’re doing is trying to build grown men, not just basketball but responsible young men who one day will be able to take care of their  family. One of the best ways to do that is have great character and understand what having great character is.

“Public speaking is also an important factor we teach here. Voice modulation is important, as well as the way they answer questions in front of the media or talk to people in general. What a lot of kids don’t know is that this is the time they’re being watched by recruiters, from 10 years old until the college level.”

As the Matchbox of Jones Senior High School is set for demolition, Maysville Elementary has been the place for many basketball activities. Lawson said he coaches his AAU team, the 7th Nation Warriors, in the new location.

“We started calling this ‘The Box,’ and trying to bring the old feeling back here.” Lawson said.

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