Success story: Bobby Jackson Summer Basketball League

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
The organizers, coaches and supporters behind the first Bobby Jackson Summer Basketball League judged the program a considerable success.
The five-week league combined basketball with other instruction designed to develop the whole child, said Andrew Mitchell, who headed the league for sixth- through 12th-graders.
Salisbury High graduate and veteran National Basketball Association player Bobby Jackson of the Sacramento Kings funded the league, which was in addition to his annual basketball camp.
“God blessed us all the way through,” Mitchell told Salisbury City Council this week.
Basketball was a vehicle, Mitchell said, but the mission and focus of the league was to make young people better.
Beyond basketball, participants were involved in workshops and programs on etiquette, tobacco prevention, anti-gang messages, healthful living and more. The season ended with a banquet at the Salisbury Civic Center.
Mitchell recognized many of the volunteers behind the program, including the Rev. Timothy Bates.
“A lot of it was his vision,” said Mitchell, who also introduced a video showing some of the league highlights.
The basketball league play went through its entire competition without any fights, technical fouls or suspensions, Mitchell said of the sportsmanship displayed.
Mayor Susan Kluttz said the league was an example of the kinds of programs growing out of the two anti-gang summits the city held in 2007. Those citizen-driven summits developed eight strategies, most of which were focused on positive youth initiatives with a strong grounding in mentors, faith and recreation.
Kluttz said she hoped the Bobby Jackson Summer Basketball League could continue next year. Jackson and all the volunteers deserve special thanks, she added.