Where we were…
Basketball Smiles was birthed in the spring of 1999 when Coach Sam Nichols from McMurry University and Coach Patty Johnson from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas met in San Jose California at the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention. A mutual love for basketball and children between these two coaches led to the first Basketball Smiles basketball camps in June 1999.
The vision of Basketball Smiles was born: to conduct free basketball camps for boys and girls of all ages, and, along with basketball instruction, conduct a life skills program for these disadvantaged children emphasizing citizenship, education, and self-discipline. Coach Nichols also gathered up three to four bags of donated athletic apparel to give to the children in the camps. The initial camp had only 75-80 boys and girls in attendance, but it was obvious to Coach Nichols that they were on the right track. After that first year, Coach Nichols developed the motto of Basketball Smiles:
Where we are now…
Over the years, Basketball Smiles has grown to where approximately 450 children are annually served through the project. As Basketball Smiles has grown, so has participation from members of the athletic industry, to where approximately seven to eight thousand dollars worth of shoes, shirts, socks, and basketballs are given away during the camps. The goal for Basketball Smiles is for every child to receive at least one piece of news athletic apparel
These basketball camps are free, and open to children of all ages. The camps are held on outdoor courts in neighborhood areas. These neighborhood areas are very poor, and many of these children would not be able to attend any basketball camp if a fee were charged.
In addition to basketball instruction, the camps present a Life Skills program that emphasizes citizenship, education, and self-discipline. The Life Skills program expanded to include specific academic tutorial materials to assist students.
Coach Patty Johnson from H.O. Nash Jr. High School continues to be the Bahamian Coordinator for Basketball Smiles. Coach Johnson not only coordinates the basketball camps, but works with Bahamian school officials to where Coach Nichols and his staff conduct in-service training for elementary and high school physical education teachers, and Coach Nichols regularly speaks at several school assemblies during his trips.