Lady Tigers welcome guests for practice
Published 12:09 pm Friday, June 22, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was the girls vs. the guys.
The Troup High girls’ basketball players were in the gym as usual on Wednesday afternoon, running the floor for one of their summer-time practices.
There was one major difference, though.
Usually when Troup scrimmages, it’s an intra-squad affair with the players divided into two teams.
On Wednesday, Troup welcomed another set of players into the gym.
Two years ago, former Callaway High basketball standout Reggie Jackson founded an organization called Future Shepherds.
Based in Hogansville, Future Shepherds is all about youth-mentoring, and basketball is a big part of what the organization does.
This week, Jackson brought some of the young men who are a part of the Future Shepherds to Troup High’s gym to scrimmage with Troup’s players.
It helped that Troup’s head coach is Carla Thornton, who like Jackson was a basketball star at Callaway, and the two have been friends for decades.
“He’d been saying that he wanted to get them out there, and we’d been friends a long time,” Thornton said. “So they came, and I told them I just wanted to get up and down the court.”
So for about two hours, Jackson’s young players ran the floor against the Lady Tigers.
“Anytime we can get kids in the gym and get them some experience, we do it,” Thornton said. “So we get them in there, and we play four games to 24.”
Jackson and Thornton, who both played college basketball after leaving Callaway, got onto the court as well and ran with the younger players.
Thornton feels it’s valuable for them to see adults who have gone on to enjoy successful careers.
“We both graduated from Callaway,” Thornton said. “We let them know if you’re serious, you can make something of yourself. We want to see everybody do well.”
Thornton also believes it’s valuable when players see that their coaches, or mentors, can get it done on the court.
“(Jackson) gets out there and plays with his boys,” Thornton said. “And I play, too. They listen to you a lot more when they see you can do it, too.”
Jackson played professional basketball for years before returning home to begin the Future Shepherds program, and Thornton has great appreciation for what her old friend has done.
“People try to tell you that you don’t have a chance at this, and that’s kind of why he named it Future Shepherds, so show that you can make it out of here,” Thornton said. “I’ve always been a fan of his vision.”