Derrick Woods-Morrow ’12 takes his role as a WildCat student-athlete seriously. So when the 2009 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in basketball heard about Randolph College’s athletic summer camps, he jumped at the chance to help.
“I want these kids to understand that basketball is fun and can take you far, but academics is the most important part of your growth,” said the forward and art major. He saw Randolph’s skill-builder camp as a way to share his love of the game with young fans and to teach them what it really means to be a college student athlete.
“Coaching at the camp helped me recognize my off-court impact not only at Randolph College, but within the greater community as well.”
In addition to the youth basketball camp, Randolph College offered camps in softball and volleyball this summer. The camps ranged from overnight weekend sessions for older students to week-long day camps for younger children. Coaches said their players often gain more than the campers.
“Having to teach a camper different skills and strategies is a great teaching tool for our athletes,” said Jennifer Steele, who led the softball camps. “It’s sometimes much easier to perform a skill than teach it. So when our athletes have to actually sit down and think about how to teach a skill to a beginner, it takes their understanding of the skill and strategy to an entirely different level.”
Randolph coaches often see strong relationships develop between the campers and the student-athletes.
“One of the things that college athletics does is teach life lessons,” said Clay Nunley, men’s head basketball coach. “Sometimes that comes in ways you would never expect—like at a camp trying to teach a group of 8-year olds. My players get the chance to serve as mentors while helping kids develop skills and an enjoyment of the game of basketball.”
Johnathan Willis, head volleyball coach, has seen the camps have an impact on recruitment, especially from the local area. “Parents and students really appreciate the time we invest. When they have a positive experience, they share that experience with other area students and parents,” he said. “That helps us get our name out there.”
Last year’s camps showed the impact Randolph students can have on children in the community. Athletic Director Tina Hill said campers returned to campus later in the year to cheer on the Randolph students during their games.
“It’s a wonderful tribute to both our students and the members of the community to see how easily and eagerly these relationships develop,” she said.