Youth basketball team puts emphasis on education - WKRN News 2

Youth basketball team puts emphasis on education

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A Tennessee basketball team is on a mission, and it's bigger than winning games.

The group is called the Tennessee Rooks. They incorporate education and volunteerism into their mission.

Ryan Clark has been involved with the program for two years.

He told News 2, "It just makes you feel good to know you have an impact on the life of someone else."

Clark's goal is to help the teenagers grow on the court but most importantly in the classroom.

"Something that has been lost in sports is the student athlete.  I emphasize the student first because many of our young men are taught that they can do anything and get anywhere as long as they can dribble a basketball but we need to emphasize them doing better in the classroom," said Clark.

The program was founded by educator Kim Jackson.  She moved to Nashville two years ago from Chicago.  Jackson played basketball at the university level but realized it was her academic skills that were going to get her ahead in life.

Jackson wanted to pass that message on and created the Tennessee Rooks.

"I want our young men to know that they have to give back and also to be stronger and more powerful than what society is telling them they are," said Jackson.

When the team travels for games, the athletes incorporate a college visit and a historical landmark into their agenda. On weekends, the teenagers volunteer at community events.

"We are going to get them an academic scholarship also. That is our goal, that is the full intentions for all that we do," said Jackson.

Eleventh grader Lamonte Shack has been part of the program for three years.

"It's a fun experience. You get to have fun for one. Jackson treats you like family," said Shack.

Shack's father said the program helped his son develop in positive ways.

"His attitude has changed for the good since he has been with Coach Jackson. That is all he talks about. Coach Jackson, Coach Jackson. He talks about her so much, like he's part of her family," said Columbus Shack.

"Everyone can't be a Michael Jordan but they can be themselves and they can be great in their own right. It does not just have to be on the basketball court, it can be on the court as well as the classroom. They can run their own business, they can run their own classroom [or] they can be a CEO," said Clark.

Jackson said her goal is to push the men to be the best they can be, not just on the court but most importantly in life.

Each player on the team is required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average.

Players also take part in an online ACT preparation course.

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