HYDEN – “Just like basketball, life is a team game,” Jeff Sheppard, former University of Kentucky all-star, told participants in the fourth Operation UNITE Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp of 2013 Monday evening.

DSC_0120-goal winners“You need to surround yourself with the right team,” Sheppard instructed the 93 youth participants from three Kentucky counties (Leslie, Harlan and Perry) plus Tennessee. “If you don’t, you stand a really, really good chance of losing.”

Sheppard said it is critical to learn how to follow the rules early, listen carefully, give your best effort and make the right choices.

“If you will do this, and stay on the straight line, you will be a better player and succeed in everything you do,” Sheppard said.

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

All participants received a free event T-shirt, regulation basketball and were entered into a drawing for two portable basketball goals given away at the conclusion of each camp. Goal winners in Leslie County were 7-year-old Dalton Roberts of Stinnett, left, and 9-year-old Conner Asher of Davidson Fork.

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.

This is the eighth year for the camps. Through Monday’s camp, 6,204 youth have participated in 48 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.