When you are a young boy or girl, Saturday mornings are usually reserved for sitting around the house watching television, playing a video game or, going outside and playing with friends. Not if you are a member of the SC Takeover AAU basketball team. Early last Saturday morning, the 14 players and three members of their coaching staff were busy sprucing things up at the old National Guard Armory on West DeKalb Street. Normally, the facility is bustling with activity in the winter and spring months, but with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the building needed some sprucing up. As you entered the two glass doors, two players were busy applying window wash to erase any dust or smudges. Once you made your way through the doors, several teammates used brooms and dust pans to clean all the cracks and crevices on the floor. Inside the main gym, mops and buckets were being used to cleanse the floor while two players with push brooms gave the hardwood a once-over. At the far end of the court, Justin Harris was literally cleaning the glass as he applied a cleaner which had the backboard sparkling clean. There was nary a basketball in sight on this day as the Kershaw County-based franchise was performing one of its community service projects which goes hand-in-hand with hoops said coach and former Camden High guard DuWayne Lee, who himself was cleaning the perimeter of the floor with a broom. “We’re not just about asking,” said Lee as he pulled himself away from his chores, “we want to give back, too. We’re trying to show the boys that it’s not just about basketball. We’re trying to teach them how to be grown men.” Comprised of fourth- and fifth-graders from elementary schools throughout Kershaw County, the ever-expanding, two-year old SC Takeover franchise --- which hopes to have a program for third-grade players in the future --- is a non-profit 501 c3 organization which has its own advisory board. Lee’s older brother, former Camden and Western Carolina University football standout Bruce Lee, serves as the president with Marcus Hayes being the treasurer. Shamika Mickens keeps tabs on the entire operation as the secretary. This has hardly been your run of the mill year for organizations such as SC Takeover, which got off to a flying start in its first go ‘round in 2019. The coronavirus has interrupted almost every phase of the program from trying to pay the bills to bringing practices to a virtual standstill. “The virus has affected us big-time,” said DuWayne Lee. “We haven’t been able to do any fundraisers or, anything to help us raise money, but it’s going to be all right. During a normal season, SC Takeover would usually practice two to four times a week. With schools not being in session and with the stay at home order in place for a good chunk of March and April, getting together at a gym was shelved. With more athletic facilities having opened up and more tournaments slated to be held this summer, SC Takeover is getting back to its former routine. On the docket for the squad are three national tournament stops. “After we put together a schedule,” Lee said, “we are going to go play in a tournament in Atlanta and one in Rock Hill in July along with a national tournament in Columbia.” Before the fun and games begin, however, there was work to be done in their own community. As the young men went about their business, going about their appointed tasks seemed to bring a smile to their faces. On this bright, sunny Saturday morning, for all the members of SC Takeover, it was not so much about helping to improve a place which they all have played inside and that many a young athlete in Kershaw County cut their basketball teeth as it was being together … working and learning as a team. “It’s teaching them responsibility and its letting them know that they are going to have to do things in life that will make them better people. It keeps them in line,” Lee said as he watched over his players perform their tasks. “It teaches them to be respectful and things like that. It’s not just about playing ball and having fun all the time. In life, you have to keep yourself in order.” On this day, members of SC Takeover and the old National Guard Armory were in order thanks to a project which taught lessons that could not be learned on the court.
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