'Cats' staff and former greats happy to give back at youth camp

FORT PAYNE – Fort Payne’s annual youth basketball camp wrapped up Friday afternoon at the Wills Valley Recreation Center where 35 participants worked on fundamentals of the game with Fort Payne’s coaching staff along with two former greats for the Lady ‘Cats.

Capriee Tucker and Alicia Williams worked alongside of their high school coach, Steve Sparks, to develop young players into what they hope will be future stars at Fort Payne.

Both Tucker and Williams praised coach Sparks and were more than happy to help out at the three-day camp.

“I would travel wherever to help coach Sparks,” Tucker said. “He’s a phenomenal guy and has been nothing but great to me. Any time I have a chance to help him or my community, I’ll do that whenever I can.”

“I love it [coming back to help at camps],” Williams said. “Coach Sparks has always been a good coach and a great mentor. Even after going to play in college, he kept in touch and came to games, so I never mind coming to help the program and develop some future players.”

Tucker scored more than 1,600 points in her time as a center for the Lady ‘Cats and was a McDonald’s All-American Finalist in 2008. She held Fort Payne’s single-game scoring record with a 44-point performance in her final game with the Lady ‘Cats before Wanya King broke that record this past season.

She went on to play at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

She is now finishing her final semester of graduate school at Alabama A&M. She also serves as an assistant coach on Hazel Green’s girls basketball team and will be student teaching there as well.

The Lady Trojans finished with a record of 37-2 this past season and finished as Class 6A runner-up after falling to Homewood 52-49 in the state championship game.

Williams was an integral part of four Area championship teams and one regional championship team at Fort Payne.

She went on to play at Mercer where she scored more than 1,000 points in four years with the Lady Bears.

She graduated Mercer with her bachelor’s degree, completed a rural medicine program at Auburn and will enter medical school at UAB in July. She plans on eventually coming back to northeast Alabama to practice primary care in the area.

Tucker, Williams and the Fort Payne basketball coaching staff helped improve camp participants’ basketball skills for three days and all participants went home with a camp T-shirt.

“It’s always fun working with kids that want to play the game,” varsity boys head coach Glen Hicks said. “I think the main thing is to get them out here, expose them to the game and try to make it fun where they’ll go home and want to work on things on their own. I’ve said all of my career that coming to a basketball camp isn’t going to make you a good player, but the things you can take from a camp and continue to work on can.”

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