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Red Hawks’ Thomas gives back to his heritage through basketball camp

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Growing up on a small island in the Caribbean, Shad Thomas always had dreams of basketball success and accomplishment.

Last summer, the Catawba Valley Community College men’s basketball standout set a goal of instilling those same aspirations into young people across his native land by creating his own basketball camp in his hometown on Union Island in the nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The camp was established to be able to help the kids on the island and to show them that anything they dream of can happen,” Thomas said. “It also helps them to learn the game of basketball and have them learn it the right way. It is also a way of me giving back to my island.”

Thomas’ camps are for children of a variety of ages — from 4 to 16 — and they teach different basketball-related skills, including dribbling, passing, rebounding, foot movement, defending, shooting and layups.

The teaching goes beyond the game of basketball, though.

“We also talk to them about how important and serious school is,” Thomas said. “If they want to reach a high level in basketball, school is important.”

Catawba Valley Community College men’s basketball head coach Bryan Garmroth recently traveled with Thomas to Saint Vincent Island to help him with the camp this year.

Garmroth, who made his first-ever trip to the Caribbean, took a lot away from the experience.

“Working the camp on an outdoor court with a concrete surface was enlightening,” Garmroth said. “Obviously, it was hot and sunny, but the kids really were sponges and wanted to learn as much as they could. That was a lot of fun.”

The experience also gave Gamroth a greater understanding of Thomas — the nation’s leading rebounder among National Junior College Athletic Association Division II players last season at 13.7 boards per game.

“It was a great opportunity to see where Shad was raised and to meet his family,” Garmroth said. “I am able to do that with kids from the United States in the recruiting process, but I was not with Shad being in the Caribbean. The courts in Saint Vincent were two of the courts where Shad spent a lot of time becoming the player he is. I think not having the comfort of an indoor court played a role in developing his work ethic that led to him being named first team all-region as a freshman. It was an incredible trip for me, and I am grateful to Shad and Kishon Bishop, who Shad lived with for his junior and senior year in the states, and grew up in Saint Vincent, for making the trip possible.”

Thomas has used the camps as extra motivation heading into his sophomore season on the court this winter for the Red Hawks.

“For me, it’s knowing that there are kids that want to learn the game of basketball and look up to me as an example,” he said. “I try my hardest to do everything the best that I can so that at the end of the day I can help these kids in anyway that I can. I want to thank my host parent — Kishon Bishop — for the opportunity and helping me to grow as a person and give back. Without him, this would not be possible.”

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