Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal is coming to town this weekend. The NBA star will participate a basketball camp on Saturday and that evening will be guest speaker at the Vikings Gala.
Humboldt Viking basketball coach, Ron Abernathy, coached O’Neal at Louisiana State University (LSU). Abernathy traveled to Germany where O’Neal was in high school and was key in recruiting Shaq to come to LSU. O’Neal’s father was stationed their in the military in Germany at the time.
Over the years, O’Neal and Abernathy remained close friends and talk regularly. This friendship is how little ‘ole’ Humboldt was able to get a great big superstar for a basketball camp and gala fundraiser. Proceeds from the gala will go toward all Humboldt City Schools’ athletics, not just basketball.
“The Vikings Gala is the first ever event of this magnitude for all Humboldt athletic teams,” Humboldt City Schools superintendent, Dr. Versie Hamlett said. “The evening will be filled with anticipation as we work together to raise funds for athletics.”
The basketball camp will begin in the HJSHS gym on Saturday morning from 8 a.m. and run until noon. Campers will be divided into groups and camp staff will assign them to other school gyms including East Elementary, Stigall Primary and the old Jr. High gym. When the camp was first announced, it was open for all students (not just Humboldt) in grades two through 12. Later kindergarten and first graders were added to the age group.
Camp will focus on several skills including passing, dribbling, shooting form, ball handling and teamwork.
The day will culminate with the Vikings Gala held at Jackson’s Oman Arena where O’Neal will be the keynote speaker.
Sponsorship packages were sold in a variety of levels, some include dinner along with a meet and greet with O’Neal prior to the program. Other levels include tables on the floor level.
Individual seats tickets were also sold with three tiers of stadium seating. Tickets must be purchased in advance through the school’s website, www.hcsvikings.org. Tickets will not be sold at the door.
“Sports participation is an incredible opportunity for our youth. Involvement in interscholastic sports has a positive impact on high school students with lessons learned in athletics, combined with the knowledge that they must do well in school to participate, improving students’ persistence and chances for success. In order to provide these high-quality experiences, Humboldt City Schools must provide up-to-date athletic facilities and programming as well as uniforms and supplies to operate a quality team sports program,” Dr. Hamlett stated.
This fundraising event will provide funding to build an athletic program that can provide rich opportunities for students.