Carmello Wesley has been playing basketball since he was 4 years old. Now 13, the Fort Bragg Family member joined other youth at the SKIESUnlimited Basketball Academy, July 28.
Held at Tolson Youth Activities Center, the academy teaches SKIESU — Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills — youth the fundamentals of basketball and good sportsmanship.
“I like basketball because you can just play the game basically whenever you want. All you need is a goal and a ball and you’re set,” Wesley said.
The youth learn basketball skills such as warm ups, dribbling and teamwork, said David Smith, volunteer coach with the academy and head coach of the Methodist University basketball team. He also brought some MU players to the academy to teach youth basic skills like passing, shooting and defense.
A military brat and the father of a service member, Smith added that it is important to give back and that basketball is an ideal sport for youth to learn.
“It helps with life situations, teaches you that hard work and perseverance will help you get through a lot of things,” he said.
Jackson Abraham, 10, also a Fort Bragg Family member, said he likes to watch and shoot basketball every day.
“My favorite player is Steph Curry,” he said. “It helps me exercise and stuff because I’ve been doing that (exercising) for a couple of years. It keeps me awake.”
For Tawanda Watson and Jonelle O’Brien, both program associates at Tolson, the academy seems to add to the value of military-connected youth.
It allows the younger ones to have exposure to collegiate experts, as well as learn from their peers and older children, explained O’Brien.
Basketball academy keeps youth in an engaged and active environment, added O’Brien.
“It keeps them engaged in being active and keeps them from being in front of the TV all summer,” she said.
For more information about Fort Bragg’s SKIESUnlimited program, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/skies-unlimited or call 643-6039.