New Hope, New Vision

How an experience at basketball camp opened new avenues for John Tyler Richmond
By Kelly Reiser
New Hope, New Vision

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams was “a teacher, leader and inspiration” to John Tyler Richmond.

John Tyler Richmond, a 14-year-old from Autryville, has always loved basketball. A birth defect prevented him from speaking clearly, but after he went through reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation, the first word he spoke was "ball."

On a court since age 3, John was taught by his mother, Crystal Richmond, and grandfather, Billy Autry, who are still his biggest fans. He lives and breathes basketball.

His passion prompted John to apply for a Touchstone Energy Sports Camp scholarship to attend the Roy Williams Carolina Basketball Camp in 2009. In his application, John described the importance of working as a team, and how basketball, to him, is about nonstop work, love of the game, respect, continuous learning and overcoming obstacles.

"When we read John's application we knew immediately that he was the candidate we wanted to have represent our cooperative," said Catherine O'Dell, manager of member and public affairs at South River EMC. "His enthusiasm before the camp was admirable, but his passion for life now is inspiring."

As a shooting guard, John spent four days shooting, dribbling, blocking and running drills at the camp on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, sponsored by South River EMC. He experienced life on a college campus and worked directly with UNC players and head coach Roy Williams, who John called a teacher, leader and inspiration.

John's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Billy Autry, say he returned home from camp a changed man. Before, they said, he wasn't driven toward a higher level of education. Now he has gained new-found motivation to excel in school and aims to return to UNC-Chapel Hill as a college student when he graduates from Midway High School in a few years. John's dream is to play college ball and ultimately, he hopes, to play in the NBA for his favorite team, the Boston Celtics.

At camp he also developed fundamental skills that have helped him both on and off the court. "Going to the camp helped him to work with a team and become more confident," says John's mother.

John learned more than just basketball skills at camp. While doing drills and playing in the camp tournament, he found a new determination to play harder and expand his knowledge. He learned the value of a college education and aspires to one day major in business.

Now a freshman in high school, John plays on a travel basketball league and spends his weekends with friends and family. He also enjoys outdoor activities, baseball and lacrosse, video games, playing the electric guitar and drawing. He's working hard to become an Eagle Scout, and he continues to benefit from the sense of determination and inspiration that a Touchstone Energy Sports Camp scholarship helped him discover.

About the Author

Kelly Reiser is an intern with the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives. She attends North Carolina State University and expects to graduate in May with degrees in communication and international studies.

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