MIDDLESBORO – Many of the fundamental lessons learned in basketball can be related to everyday life, participants in the second Operation UNITE Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp of 2013 were told Thursday evening, June 6.

DSC_0114-goal winners“Learn to follow the rules early and it will be easier as you get older,” Jeff Sheppard, former University of Kentucky all-star, told the 182 youth participants from four Kentucky counties (Bell, Harlan, Laurel and Rockcastle) and three other states (Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia).

Sheppard said the same rules of camp apply to life: Have fun, give your best effort, and learn how to listen. “If you will do this you will be a better player and succeed in everything you do.”

“It’s important to stay on the straight line. Drugs are trying to pull you off,” Sheppard continued. “At the end of the day it is your choice. There’s no reason for you to try drugs. It doesn’t end well.”

Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps combine basketball skills instruction in conjunction with anti-drug and self-esteem messages.

“You have to listen to directions. You have to practice. You have to follow the rules,” Sheppard said. “These concepts apply to everything you do.”

All participants received a free event T-shirt, regulation basketball and are entered into a drawing for two portable basketball goals given away at the conclusion of each camp. Goal winners in Bell County were 7-year-old Jaylyn Mink and 9-year-old Tyler Houston, both of Middlesboro

Presented by Codell Construction Management and Senture, Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps are fun, interactive and provide a safe, drug-free activity where children have an opportunity to interact with positive role models while learning fundamental basketball skills.

Parents and guardians attended a brief UNITE Foundation education program on synthetic drugs and how to talk to their children about drugs.

At the beginning of camp, UNITE Director Dan Smoot recognized state Rep. Rick Nelson for his support of anti-drug efforts in the General Assembly.

This is the eighth year for the camps. Through Thursday, 6,111 youth have participated in 47 regional Shoot Hoops camps.

Helping make the 2013 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps possible are: Enough (Lifeline of Carter County), Flowers Bakery of London, Inc., Laurel Grocery Company, Walmart of Louisa, Pineville Rotary Club, Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy, Chad’s Hope Teen Challenge Center, First National Bank of Grayson, WestCare Kentucky, Wilhoit Law Office, Breathitt County Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) and Grayson Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.