By Josh Troy
Coahoma County Youth Outreach’s basketball program has been developing young athletes for Kendric Travis’ eight years as enrichment director. Twelve teams with children ages 5 to 15 either won a championship or finished runner-up for the 2022-23 season. The Bulls won the 12 to 15-year-old boys’ championship with coach Micheal Barfield, while the Clippers, with coach John Taylor Sr., finished runner-up. With coach Calysia Phillips, the Cavaliers won the 12 to 15-year-old girls’ championship, while the Bucks, with coach Shequana Sledge, finished runner-up.
With coaches Kelvin Stacker and Mario Johnson, the Heat won the 8 to 11-year-old boys’ championship, while the Grizzlies, with coach Barfield, finished runner-up. The Magic, with coach Phillips, won the 8 to 11-year-old girls’ championship, while the Suns, with coach Sledge, finished runner-up. With coach Jestin Dishman, the Blazers won the 5 to 7-year-old boys’ championship, while the Knicks, with coach Tim Williams, finished runner-up. The Celtics, with coach Tom Williams, won the 5 to 7-year-old girls’ championship, while the Pelicans, with coach Tim Williams, finished runner-up.
“I think we had a great season overall,” Travis said. “The kids learned a lot. Basically, the season is to teach fundamentals and get them to increase their fundamentals from the ages of 5 up. You’ve got your little kids just learning how to play, so they’re going to do the double dribbling and everything, but they’re learning the fundamentals.” With each age group, more calls were made. “On the next level, the 8 to 11-year-olds, we really called a lot of the double dribbling and everything,” Travis said. “And it helped those kids learn the game and to stop double dribbling and traveling.”
Travis was pleased with how the season went.”All the leagues were exciting,” he said. “All the groups were. “We didn’t have many young ladies that participated, but I’m proud of the ones that did. They came out, played every game, and some got better. It was great conditioning for them, but many say they’re returning and playing again. So I think they’ll bring more of their friends into play. So I’m excited about it.”
Travis said the basketball program has developed many athletes for the high school level. He noted several Clarksdale High School players, including junior point guard Patrick Broomfield, senior point guard Gregory Neely, senior guard and forward Kelley Jones, junior power forward and center Kyle Coleman, senior shooting guard and forward Henry Espy, freshman guard and forward Kamarrius Rash and senior guard and small forward Isaiah Galmore, have been a part of the CCYO basketball league.
“This was a starting point for those kids,” Travis said. “They’ve been here at some point throughout their elementary, junior high and high school careers. A lot of those kids grew up here.” Travis said the CCYO program is set up to develop young athletes throughout the year. This is a place they could come to pretty much every day after school, a safe place, a place that’s either going to be warm or it’s going to be cool when it’s hot, and they can play.
Travis said CCYO has baseball and softball, summer leagues. He added that the kids could practice outside, but they use the batting cage in the Coahoma County Expo Center on days the weather is bad. This coming summer, Travis said Stacker might be starting a track program, and the kids would be able to use the track at Clarksdale High School across the street from the Expo Center. “We’re going to try to help him with that and put some of our kids over there and maybe be a financial backer for him if we can,” Travis said. “So that will be something different for this area.” While CCYO does not have a peewee football league, Travis said Stacker and other coaches of the Clarksdale Bears prepare athletes for high school. Travis said CCYO would be doing other activities, including its annual fishing rodeo during the summer and planting a community garden this spring.