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Basketball Camp Teaches On and Off Court Skills

A basketball camp at Peoria’s Civic Center is teaching youth about more than the love of the game.
PEORIA - A basketball camp at Peoria’s Civic Center is teaching youth about more than the love of the game.
 
"It's a basketball camp. I think the basketball itself is what I would call the carrot," said Tony Wysinger, who helps manage the “Mitchell “JJ” Anderson Dana J. Davis All-Star Basketball Camp.

There are about 500 kids at this year's camp and Wysinger said the sport gets young athletes in the door, giving mentors an opportunity to teach other skills as well.

"We have one station that we'll talk about things that are just going on in their life about decisions that you make, how they can affect you dealing with peer pressure," Wysinger said.

Tuesday that included talks from Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and Peoria County Sheriff Michael McCoy who talked about staying in school and out of jail.

Even though he was focused on the ball, these important messages are not lost on 13-year-old Geno Hess.

"Stay out of drugs, stay in school and go to college and get a degree," is what Hess said he’s taking away from camp.

This is 14-year-old Jailynn Lawson's fourth year at the camp. She said it's made her a better player, but that the coaches also talk about her performance off the court.

"They encourage us all around. They say school comes before basketball so make sure you keep your grades up in order to play," she said.

Good grades, some serious skills and it doesn't hurt to want to be a champion, too.

"Last year we won, the girls won and it's fun to brag to the boy," Lawson said.

The camp goes through Friday and also offers medical checkups and dental cleanings.
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