My summer spent with the kids|Commentary

Published 7:40 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Sports Editor

Some of my favorite times spent around the field and the court happened this summer.
Sure, the competition was intense, but the players almost always walked away with huge smiles on their faces. That, in turn, left a big smile on mine.
I was able to enjoy covering Damien Wilkins annual basketball camp at P.S. Jones Middle School. Damien, who is beyond generous and always humble — forever saying that he’s “just doing my part” — always puts on a good show.
The kids adore Damien and he adores them. He never turns away anybody who has a question. He has that special knack where he treats each camper as being somebody special.
The kids aren’t just there for T-shirts and prizes. They actually learn quite a bit.
And so did I. As Damien told me prior to a game, “No layups.” Okay, he didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I gathered from a wink and a nod.
I took his advice. And I want to publicly apologize now to 8-year-old Dawn. Again, I’m sorry for that flagrant foul and I hope that bruised shin heels quickly.
I kid! I kid!
The highlight of the camp may have been Malik Bell. This 7-year-old had some mad skills, and I think he’s going to be a star for the Pam Pack one day.
During some five-on-fives, Malik stuck around to play with the older group. He was asked to play with the females, which didn’t exactly sit well with him.
“Man, check this out,” he said to Damien. “They got me playing with the girls!”
I’ve never seen Damien laugh so hard.
I also got to see some young, terrific athletes and cheerleaders at the Charles Bowser NFL Youth Football/Cheerleading Camp in Plymouth.
Most of the kids seemed really impressed to be learning from some former Miami Dolphins greats, including Bowser, Nat Moore and Mark “Super” Duper.
The former Dolphins were fantastic, taking their time with each kid and making sure everybody had a good time. Whether somebody caught a pass or fumbled the ball, the instructors made sure every kid was praised.
The young cheerleaders learned some new routines, and even got to meet and mingle with a couple current Dolphins cheerleaders, Kellie and Amy.
(Okay, chatting with the former Dolphins was great but, I have to admit, meeting these two was definitely the highlight for me.)
The Dolphins cheerleaders certainly were a big hit. The kids would run up and hug them every time they appeared.
(Okay, here comes public apologize No. 2.… and, well, No. 3. To 7-year-old Kimberly, once again I’m sorry for throwing your pom poms and pushing you away when I saw Kellie so I could hug her first. And to Kellie, I’m sorry for that “prolonged and uncomfortable” hug.)
I kid! I kid!
The summer continued with some excellent softball from some truly awesome kids. Congratulations to all the area teams for their success.
Hanging out by the dugouts and chatting with some of the players while taking photos was fun. I see bright futures for players like Danielle Duckwall, Kelly Toppin, Devin Bunch, Kesley Lang and the rest of the Washington All-Stars.
Bailey Hobbs, Katelyn Rowe, Glory McKeever and the other Chocowinity stars will be shining, I’m sure, in the near future, along with players like Williamston stars Taylor Moore, Kelly Drew, Blake Hardison and Konnor Edwards.
The enthusiasm that all these kids displayed certainly put a smile on my face. I hope their summer has been great, because they’ve certainly helped mine be a special one.
Kevin Travis is the Sports Editor of the Washington Daily News. You may reach him at 940-4217, or by e-mail at