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QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — A new after-school program helps Berrian School third-grader Karedyn Williams connect seven habits with basketball skills — and life.

By being proactive or practicing skills like shooting and dribbling, Karedyn said she can get better at the game.

Just as important, “it is very fun,” she said. “It’s kind of like a hobby for me.”

Having after-school fun and learning at the same time is the goal behind the Berrian Basketball Camp — a four-week program spearheaded by Troy Potts, a Berrian alumnus who now is a senior at Quincy Notre Dame High School.

“To have a clinic where they can learn skills is something a lot of our kids don’t have the opportunity to be involved in,” said Lynne Scholz, Berrian’s prevention educator.

“I just wanted to give back for the kids here. Some of them don’t have the opportunities I did as a little kid to come to basketball camp, learn about the game and have fun after school,” Potts said. “The more people we can get doing stuff like this, the better. It can be anything after school — music, basketball. Anything we can get kids active and being productive is a good thing.”

Transportation issues and cost can keep Berrian’s kids away from similar programs available in the Quincy community, but this camp is offered one day a week at no charge in the school gym.

“It gives them an opportunity to learn something new they are interested in,” Scholz said. “Hopefully as they get a little older, they’ll keep up trying to improve their skills and be part of the junior high or high school team. Anybody will tell you being on a team really builds your ability to work well with others, to share. There’s just so many benefits from having this at school for our kids.”

The program was open to second- and third-graders, with 26 taking advantage of it.

“It’s just pretty much fun,” second-grader Elijah Johnson said. “It’s kind of my favorite sport to play.”

A recent session featured a game of knockout and practice dribbling — with a dose of the seven habits, outlined in the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and taught in Quincy Public Schools.

“You can apply all seven habits to school, basketball or basically anything in life,” Potts said.

“Today was an example of being proactive. We have to be quiet and listen to make sure we’re making good use of the time we have. Last week, we stressed think win-win. We play knockout, and there’s only going to be two winners, one at each hoop. Even though a person wins, we’re not losers. We’re all winners because we’re having fun and getting better.”

Jenna Valeu works at Berrian and has a daughter in the program.

“I love that it’s here,” Valeu said. “It offers kids an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

Potts has come back to Berrian to coach the students in the annual student-staff basketball game and wanted to expand his involvement with the school.

“He has stayed connected with us,” Scholz said. “We haven’t reached out constantly to him. He has reached back to us, and that says a lot about him and his family. He’s really listened and learned over the years from what grown-ups and coaches have taught him. He wants to impart that knowledge to up-and-coming kids.”

Seeing an after-school program grow at Berrian would be fabulous, Scholz said.

“We’re offering this, but maybe next month we could offer volleyball or dance,” she said. “That would just be so wonderful for our children. Maybe they’ve been wanting to try a sport or an activity but don’t have the opportunity. You never know when you may spark a lifelong passion in a student by giving them an opportunity to try it in an environment they feel comfortable in.”


Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig,


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig,