Former Harlem Globetrotter and current Harlem Legend Michael Douglas, left, helps Gaas Herman, 6, spin a basketball on his finger Monday at the Harlem Legends Shoot for the Stars Basketball Camp at the Rossville Athletic Complex. The camp, organized by Douglas and former UTC Lady Mocs basketball player Regina Kirk, teaches kids the fundamentals of basketball and will culminate will a Harlem Legends exposition game.Photo by Doug Strickland.
A UTC basketball Hall of Famer and SoCon Player of the Year saw younger girls in the sport who lacked encouragement and guidance. And she wants to help.
"I want girls to know their self-worth from the inside out, on and off the basketball court," said Regina Kirk, who was voted the Southern Conference Player of the Year four times. She played at UTC from 1984 to 1988.
Kirk, 47, is starting the Regina Kirk Foundation to teach basketball skills and mentor girls.
Veteran Harlem Globetrotter Michael Douglas is visiting Chattanooga this week to help her get started. The two are conducting a basketball camp at the Rossville Athletic Center that will culminate in a basketball game between the Regina Kirk All Stars and the Harlem Legends.
The legends consists of retired Globetrotters, including Larry "Shorty" Coleman, Tyrone "Hollywood" Brown and Robert "Skywalker" Wallace.
"It's going to be two hours of forgetting about your troubles and your problems and just coming out and having a wonderful time with us," said Douglas, founder of the Harlem Legends and the Michael Douglas Youth Foundation.
Proceeds from the game and camp will be used to start the mentoring program for girls.
"We're not teaching them to be only better athletes," said Douglas, 52. "We're teaching them to be better people."
The five-day camp started Monday with Douglas discussing steps he took outside of basketball to help him be successful.
"Luck only happens when preparation and opportunity meet," he said while addressing the group.
Then he explained how he got one of his first raises as a Globetrotter.
At age 25 he went to Japan. It was his first overseas interview.
They said "Ohayou gozaimasu," he said, recalling the Japanese greeting for good morning.
Douglas didn't know what it meant then, but he purchased a book and started learning Japanese. Then he learned Mandarin and Spanish.
When media asked for someone with the Globetrotters to interview, he eventually became the designated spokesman because he had learned the languages. He got an unexpected raise for his effort, he said.
More than a dozen children attending the camp asked all kinds of questions. Had he ever played with basketball great Michael Jordan? Did the Coca-Cola in his hand taste good?
He said he did play ball against six-time NBA champion Jordan for the first three years of his professional career. He said he also played Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics great.
After he spoke, Douglas divided the group into two teams and led them in basketball drills. But to start the drill the team had to figure out a math problem. And the strongest mathematician on the team had to eventually help his other teammates get the answer so they all could participate.
"Even if you're not the best player, you can be the best person," said Douglas. "You have to prepare and put a game plan together."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...