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Community Last Updated: Jul 25, 2018 - 12:08:42 PM

Shooting for a higher education
By Serena Williams
Jul 25, 2018 - 12:01:08 PM

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Smiles on the court as CIBC FirstCaribbean representatives proudly presented scholarship winner Vandia Williams with her awards at the Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp closing ceremony. L to R: Janae Rolle, Sales Specialist, CIBC FirstCaribbean Marathon Mall branch; Vandia Williams, St. Andrews graduate and Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp awardee; and Nikia Christie, Marketing Manager, CIBC FirstCaribbean.

Nassau, Bahamas - The Kevin Johnson Basketball Summer Camp is paving a path to higher education for young Bahamians by teaching them about life, the rewards of a good education, and sometimes even helping them to score a college scholarship, all while improving their skills at the game.

Among the camp’s top performers this year is Vandia Williams, who topped off a list of summer camp awards with the news of a college scholarship.  Winner of the Overall Team Champion Award, the Free-Throw Champion Award, and the Most-Improved Player Award, the biggest win for Vandia was her scholarship to Hartwick College. “I just turned 18, I just graduated from St. Andrews, and I’m going off in August to continue playing for Hartwick College in New York, so this just feels amazing,” she said.

“I started playing basketball in grade 9 and it was a sport that I loved so I wanted to find a place where I could grow in it. This is my fourth year at the Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp, and I’ve flourished into a totally different basketball player from when I first started. I only knew how to shoot free-throws; now I can do everything on the court: from dribbling to shooting. Coach Kevin and Coach Mark Hanna helped me along the way, and I’m thankful because now it’s given me this opportunity to study abroad.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean has sponsored The Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp for nearly a decade, working together to hone the love of basketball among Bahamian youth towards a chance for higher education. Front row: Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp Coaches. Third from left: Janae Rolle, Sales Specialist, CIBC FirstCaribbean Marathon Mall branch; Nikia Christie, Marketing Manager, CIBC FirstCaribbean; and Coach Kevin Johnson, founder, The Kevin Johnson Basketball Camp. Seated behind Nikia Christie is Vandia Williams, scholarship winner as well as the awardee for Overall Team Champion, Free-Throw Champion, and Most-Improved Player.

The three-week camp closed out their training season with a celebratory awards ceremony to honor its players’ excellence on and off the court.  Camp organizers were joined by representatives from sponsor CIBC FirstCaribbean, who lent a hand in presenting players with awards at the closing ceremony.

CIBC FirstCaribbean has been a regular sponsor over the last decade. Marketing Manager Nikia Christie said the bank “wanted to do more than just hand over a cheque, so helping to give out the awards was a great way to be more involved in this program that we admire.  Interacting with all of these kids who love basketball and who are encouraged to pursue education through their passion has been a great experience. Feeling the excitement in the room and knowing we had a hand in creating that energy and buzz among these children is priceless.”

Coach and founder Kevin Johnson said the camp is all about helping young Bahamians find a way to achieve higher education. “We got started about 23 years ago. The goal was to keep children busy throughout the summer and teach them about life and the game of basketball, of course; but at the end of the day, hopefully a lot of these kids will get scholarships to further their education – and that has been happening. That’s what it’s all about: helping young girls and boys in our community see that you can use basketball as a tool to move forward and get an education. My motto is God first, academics second, basketball third. Once you have those three things in perspective, you’re well on your way.

“We’ve been partnering with CIBC FirstCaribbean as a sponsor for at least nine years, so we want to say thank you, CIBC [FirstCaribbean], for always supporting the kids. We appreciate it and hopefully, by God’s grace, together we can continue to make this camp a success,” he added.

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