“I’m like a kid in the candy store to see these kids happy.” – Michael Watson

Posted July 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

 

By Leslie Collins
Northeast News
July 27, 2011

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FCA volunteer Rachel Riley leads a dance routine July 19 at the FCA camp. Leslie Collins

Central High School’s gymnasium bustled with activity July 19-22.

Some dribbled basketballs and soccer balls. Others whipped out their dance moves and outside, the boys put their football skills to the test.

All of the sports activities were part of the Michael Watson/FCA Power Camp for youth ages eight to 13. Sixty-five volunteers led the camp and approximately 120 youth participated throughout the week.

Watson, who played basketball for Central High School and later played for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Boston Celtics and professional basketball in Europe and Puerto Rico, said he wanted to lead a camp that “gives back and creates future leaders.”

“It was a need in the city,” he said. “We had never had a multi-sports camp in the urban core of Kansas City. It (camp) has gone phenomenal. The support from the community has been overwhelming.

“I’m like a kid in the candy store to see these kids happy and learn about Christ.”

FCA campers also listened to special speakers and met top athletes like former Seattle Mariners pitcher Brian Holman, former Rockhurst University and University of Missouri football player Tony Temple, University of Missouri-Kansas City former basketball player Quinton Day, who currently plays professionally overseas, among other athletes.

Mark Gassman, director of FCA for Missouri, said the inner city sports camp had been a vision of his for years.

For 27 years, he’s worked with FCA and 18 of those years have been in Historic Northeast. For his first coaching job, he coached football, basketball and track at Lillis High School, which exposed him to the projects.

“It was something I hadn’t seen before,” he said.

FCA camps impact youth in a positive way and develops their character, he said.

“It’s (camp) going to use these kids to change their neighborhood, their community. That excites me,” Gassman said.

Central High School Athletic Director Steve Schottel said the high school started an FCA huddle this year. It began with the football team and branched out to the entire school, he said.

“FCA has been magnificent to our kids at this school,” Schottel said.

FCA has taught them to become leaders and build on their self image, he said.

Schottel commended the camp and said, “This is nothing but a positive in many ways.”