Spurlock helps kids on and off court through Team Buckets
Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 16:07
Last season, the Knights' men's basketball scout team was headlined by three transfers from major-conference schools: Tristan Spurlock from Virginia, Josh Crittle from Oregon and Jeff Jordan from Illinois, all ineligible for one year due to transfer regulations.
They named themselves "Team Buckets," because as Spurlock explained, they "felt like they could score at any time."
Thanks to the efforts of Spurlock and senior sports and exercise science major Josh Johns, a simple nickname given to the scout team has taken on a life of its own.
Team Buckets is now in the beginning stages as a non-profit organization aiming to work with youth in the community, with the goal of providing children a positive influence. The organization is themed around sports, with a large part of the foundation based around the usage of athletes as role models and people who the youth will listen to.
"We took that (the name) and we flipped it into an organization that we wanted to reach out to the community," Spurlock said.
Spurlock met Johns shortly after arriving on campus last summer, and the two quickly became friends. They now refer to one another as best friends, even brothers. When Johns kept hearing the nickname being thrown around by Spurlock, he said he spotted an opportunity. It all started with the name.
"I told Tristan, ‘How can we turn this into something different?'" Johns said. "So right before I went home for Mother's Day, I sat down and wrote out a tagline and stuff like that. ‘Get buckets every day in every way' is the theme I came up with."
Spurlock and Johns say the message is to take the idea of "getting buckets," commonly associated with scoring points in basketball, and apply it to everyday life for youth.
"You get an ‘A' — that could be a bucket," Spurlock said.
Team Buckets has had two events so far; a basketball tournament in Johns' hometown of Pensacola and a community barbecue here in Orlando.
"We just got a local park and gave away free t-shirts to kids in Pensacola, kids who may not know what it takes to get to college," Spurlock said of the tournament, which had a turnout of 80 to 100 people, and in addition to basketball, featured relay races and other activities.
For the picnic in Orlando, Johns got in touch with Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, and the collaboration led to a turnout of hundreds on Memorial Day at Turkey Lake Park. Magic point guard Gilbert Arenas also came out to the event which was advertised through Howard's Twitter account.
Johns knows Howard after playing against the now-NBA All-Star while Howard was in his senior year of high school at a tournament in Tallahassee. At the tournament, their teams stayed in the same hotel and became acquainted. In addition, Johns has also worked part-time for the Magic during his sophomore year.
Using athletes such as Howard and Arenas, and even Spurlock, is how Johns says he hopes to best connect with the youth.
"You'll remember if Dwight Howard says, ‘Hey, stay in school,'" Johns said. "I know that things like that will make a lasting impression."
Since the Memorial Day event with Howard, Johns says he has been focused on building a website and networking for the organization. He also says they are pushing for the next event to be in September, possibly a celebrity softball game or a 5K race.
Spurlock, who hopes to visit some local schools this fall as part of his role with the organization, says specifically that he wants to show kids that while sports are important, there has to be more to a person's character.
"We want to show them that you can't just be an athlete and get by," Spurlock said.
Johns admitted he has been nervous over both events with regards to turnout and success, especially the first event in Pensacola. That's when he says he got some valuable advice from his grandfather and family.
"They were telling me not to stress it, that if we touch just one kid and change one kid's day then we'd done our job," Johns said. "The smallest things can make kids have a great day and that's fulfilling to me."
Team Buckets' website is up, although still under construction, and can be found online at TeamBucketsOrlando.com.