Bridging athletic and life skills

Former Schoolcraft Men’s Basketball coach helps Metro Detroit youth foundation

By Jimmy Dyer
News Editor

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Former Schoolcraft basketball head coach, Randy Henry, has worked with Detroit’s youth through the B.A.L.L. Foundation for the past 23 years.

Twenty-three years ago, the City of Detroit tried to close the Diehl Boys and Girls Club, but former Schoolcraft’s Men’s Basketball head coach (2007-2014) and current WDIV morning show director, Randy Henry, held $35 basketball camps to help the club stay open by donating $25 from each registered child. The B.A.L.L. Foundation has been an ongoing operation since.

The foundation is a community-based organization that works to improve the youth of Detroit’s mental, physical, and educational needs. Through sponsorships and volunteers throughout the community, the foundation continues to give back day after day.

“The B.A.L.L. Foundation’s mission is to achieve the vision by creating learning environments in the form of basketball camps, training classes and health fairs for youth ages seven through 17. The Foundation’s vision is to create social and life-changing experiences for young people through the influence of basketball,” Henry said.

The camp runs twice a year at Cass Technical High School. One camp in mid June, the other in late July. Boys and girls work together in camps and are guided by Henry, along with multiple other camp counselors. The number of participants attending has been steadily on the rise in recent years.

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Dr. Joseph E. Kimbrough teaches campers life skills and the importance of education.

Although it is a sports camp, the foundation puts emphasis on academics and has granted over $12,000 in college academic scholarships through the help of multiple sponsors such as Comerica Bank, MGM Grand Detroit and WDIV Channel 4.

“Not only do we focus on academics, but life skills. There is an uninformed side to these kids who are given the wrong ideas, and that’s what we help teach them,” said Dr. Joseph E. Kimbrough, the leader and teacher of the life skills and educational portion of the program.

Kimbrough emphasizes what is wrong and what is right. Through multiple techniques, varying for each age group, he informs campers on how to make better life choices.

Henry also brings in law enforcement and teachers to work with the campers in the gym. This enables the youth to see the real person behind the uniform and positive side of today’s law enforcement rather than the negative side that is often portrayed in media and society.

The STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), also aids the foundation by tracking a small group of students consecutively for five Saturdays to keep track of how they are functioning throughout the month-long duration in school and at home, which helps provides the foundation with feedback on how their students are applying the lessons taught at camp.

Henry hopes that after he retires from his role at WDIV Channel 4, to run the facility four to five times a week, so kids can come and go as if it were an open gym.

“It’s a great time for these kids to come in and meet new people and in a way just kind of get their mind off of anything that troubles them,” said camp counselor Tim Johnson.

On top of running two basketball camps every year, the foundation also is expanding and implementing a volleyball camp for girls age seven to 17.

Henry is working with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help send 10 students from the camps up north with the bare essentials, after being trained in a wilderness program for a week. Henry feels it is important that the campers are given the chance to do more than they have the opportunity to do in their lives at home.

The foundation has a fundraiser page for upcoming camps and programs at http://ballfoundationmi.org/take-action/54-2, and their goal is to raise $5,000.

The foundation continues to better the youth of Metro Detroit. Through the help of sponsors and proper guidance, the camp will continue to flourish and succeed through the years with its mission. For further information, contact the foundation at ballfoundationmi.org/contact-us/.