Herald Photo / Provided
EARLY PLAY  — Barnett learned to play at the Kokomo Family YMCA.
Herald Photo / Provided EARLY PLAY — Barnett learned to play at the Kokomo Family YMCA.
What an unbelievable year! June marked one year since I started my basketball program the, JC Barnett School of Jump Shooting. Through the game of basketball, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible people from all walks of life. I’ve met families that live out deep in the beautiful rural areas of the surrounding counties. I’ve met families that live here in the city of Kokomo, and I’ve seen the great lengths families will travel for their kids to experience this game from all over the state of Indiana. It has been such a blessing to me, basketball has.  I can’t imagine the direction my life would be headed without this game. Not that I wouldn’t be doing something positive, as I can assure you my upbringing taught me better, but hoops has been a constant presence as far back as I can remember. 

There’s a picture that I often look at when I visit my parents’ home. Within the picture itself, there isn’t anything extraordinary about it, to be quite honest with you. My dad signed me up for “Lil Dribblers” at the YMCA when I was young; in this picture he is standing out on the floor in the middle of all my teammates. After having just shot the ball, I’m in the act of running around to the back of the line in the old original YMCA gym, giving my pops sort of a little glance. Truthfully, I don’t remember that exact moment at all. All I can say is that now, as a man, looking at this simple picture of my dad there with me, encouraging me, participating with me, that’d have to be the reason I love this game so much. The fact that he was simply just there to nurture me, to grow the love I was developing. Those acts are what are so special. The gift that I have for shooting the basketball is no accident. The combination of the love my father showed me and introducing me to the game  made it inevitable that a natural occurrence of events would take place. 

Throughout the years the more I set foot on the basketball court, the more I developed my gift, a sweet gift, a great tool, actually. I watched my ball go in time after time after time – from further and further out. I could see that other kids weren’t necessarily hitting shots the way that I was. Gift – wasn’t a term that I would have used back then as a child, but it certainly is the term that I use now. Once I understood that’s what it truly was, I could start treating it as something that could be given to others. This gift was given to me by God; my intentions are to share it with as many people in this world as I possibly can. 

There is such great power held in service to others. Recently a Facebook memory flashed across my page, and it was my very first student. His name was Braxton. I became so grateful that I was still here, that my program was still going strong, that I’m still living this dream that all started with a gift I possess. Extraordinary things happen when we begin to invest in others. I realize that I am here and successful because there is honor in taking the time to bless people with something that can help them grow and achieve their dreams. Dr. King once said that “it is well that it’s within thine (your) heart.” Dreams, as small or as insignificant as they may be to someone else, are yours, and they matter. What are your dreams? Whatever they may be, hang on to them with all of your might. They are attainable. If basketball happens to be one of your dreams, I wish to be a voice that helps you realize them through teaching you the art of jump shooting – because I believe a jump shooter is always in the game. 

As my mother says, “Blessed to be a blessing.”