Shooting for Success - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Shooting for Success

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It started out as a coach's challenge to 8 of his players one year ago.

"Find 8 people.  I don't care who they are: fat, skinny, young, black, green, whatever.  Get a team together.  We'll put a tourney out here.  They found 8 kids and the next thing you know, we have 8 kids, then 20-30, and the next thing you know, we had a summer program," said Earnest Bell, Summer Jam Director.

For the past two summers, Bell, a former Division 1 basketball player, has been putting on Summer Jam, a basketball camp in Minot geared towards keeping teens out of trouble and off the streets.

Bell said, "Minot is getting bigger.  We can't stop what's going to happen, so we got to have something for those kids and those parents that come into town and have somewhere to go."

While there are a lot of temptations teens can face, at Summer Jam, they're shooting for much more than a basket.

"They learn confidence, which in turn they take out in the real world and instill in other things as well," said Bell.

But, like all things, life can sometimes take unexpected turns.  For Bell, that meant trading in his jersey for a whistle.

Bell said, "I made some bad choices.  But, I have to say, I maxed out my career.  Now, I found out my passion was to make other kids go further than what I did, and I think some of them have the potential."

From early June to late August, the kids are playing basketball at Hammond Park three nights a week learning the basic fundamentals and skills of the sport.

"It's a competitive atmosphere," explains Bell.  "You know the kids watch the other kids.  The kids who are sitting down watch the other kids play, you know, get moves things like that.  It's very challenging."

Anthony Vetter knows first hand what it means to have that competitive fire on the court.

"It makes you feel like you've actually gotten a lot better because you're playing outside and you work on your game playing 3 days a week.  You get better the more you play," said Vetter.  "Practice makes perfect."

At the end of the game, it's not about who wins or how many points they score, for Bell, it's all about improving.

Bell said, "I seem them grow.  I see them get taller.  I see the moves.  I see the confidence, the leadership.  I see all that.  It's great for me."

As another Summer Jam wraps up, Bell hopes the players will take the lessons they learned on the court and apply them to the game of life.

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