Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2008
By Donna Taylor
It started out as a meeting in Rose Mary McKinney’s living room, and now the Let’s Talk It Out, Inc., has blossomed into a full fledged community cause.
The organization held it’s third annual basketball camp on Friday and Saturday, June 6-7, at the North Panola High School gym. On Friday, the camp was 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and from 8 a.m. Saturday, closing out the two day event at 2 p.m. Billy Brown, the brother of McKinney, has spearheaded a project that is growing in numbers and sponsors.
The first two camps were only for a day, but Brown’s driving force has given the mini camp momentum.
“It’s not about where we are, but what we are doing,” Brown said emphatically.
And what he is doing is giving the youth in surrounding areas of the county positive things to grasp. He has brought in former athletes who did not make it to the NFL, yet still work in the field of sports in another capacity.
“Big names draw crowds, but what do they have to say?” Brown continued. He wants the campers to see positive athletes who earned scholarships athletically and used those scholarships to prosper academically.
The lunch speaker for Friday’s occasion was Jamil Northcutt, athletic director for internal operations at Ole Miss, where he played football.
“Obey your parents and go to school,” Northcutt told the first wave of campers, who numbered almost 60 participants. He also stressed three things that they must apply in order to be successful, on and off the field. Be diligent, focus and continue, were his focal points.
“It ain’t all about the money,” Northcutt said. “You can be in football or basketball and not be a player.”
He asked them to read and remember Proverbs 10:4, that reads, ”Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring a man wealth.”
He stressed the fact to the students to finish anything they start. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the example he used as being diligent. Lunch for Friday was donated by Domino’s Pizza and Subway, both in Batesville.
Saturday’s camp garnered another large number of campers, some returned from the day before and some were newcomers.
“We’re here basically to have fun and learn basketball,” Brown told the 50 or more youngsters. “God gets the glory for everything we’re doing today.”
Billy Brown was joined in this installment of the camp by his twin brother Bobby, brother, Edward, sister and strongest supporter Rose Mary McKinney, and her three daughters. Vickie Brown, his wife, showed up for the Saturday camp. It’s a family thing for the Browns.
The lunch speaker on Saturday was FedEx Human Resource Manager and Director, Thanh (pronounced ‘Thon”) Anderson.. He graduated from Vanderbilt University after receiving an athletic scholarship. Anderson is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in Collierville, with his wife and two daughters, Taylor, 9, and Langston, 6, named after poet laureate, Langston Hughes.
He began his speech with “I’m not related to the “Rock” or Junior Seau, “ which drew laughter from the crowd. He pointed out that fact early because of his uncanny resemblance to both men. Then he got serious.
Anderson also had three important focal points for the youth to ponder.
“Be persistent, resilient and have integrity,” he stressed.
After making that statement, he asked the students if they understood what each word meant. He got some very interesting answers.
As for his job, Anderson said he is a “people person” and deals with people from all walks of life. His candor and relaxed attitude as he spoke to the children, told the story itself. Anderson later ate lunch with the youth in the sweltering heat in the gym being cooled by one large industrial fan.
Brown, Anderson and Northcutt are all members of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
“Billy is my frat brother and since coming into the organization has been a real go-getter,” Anderson boasted of Brown.
They both said that their fraternity tries to give back to the community as much as possible and want to be positive role models for all young people.