This month PYB is proud to feature four young leaders, Olin Chamberlain Jr., Ife West-Ingram, Khalis Whiting, and Cire Worley, in our Staff Member Spotlight! These young leaders have participated in our summer camps over the past two years and have shown exemplary character and skill both on the basketball court and in the classroom. This month Oline Jr., Ife, Khalis and Cire were given the opportunity to join eight PYB staff and volunteers along with 38 coaches from Philadelphia Men’s Basketball League to help run a basketball camp in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.
The trip was an overwhelmingly rewarding experience for everyone involved – the young PYB participants learned to put their skills into action during a week of grueling basketball training, coaching and the Jamaican sun, all while being immersed into an entirely new culture.
As a part of the international youth leadership initiative PYB piloted in Jamaica, we asked all young leaders to share a little about themselves and their experience during the Treasure Beach Basketball Camp. We hope that you enjoy learning more about these impressive young people and we look forward to their continued growth with PYB.
Khalis Whiting – 8th Grade Student, Abington Junior High School
Khalis has been passionate about basketball ever since she started playing in the first grade. Khalis reflected upon her experience growing up with the game; “In the beginning it was just something to do at recess.Through time, my recess play turned into a passion. I began watching basketball games on tv and my mom put me in a neighborhood rec league. I was the only girl in the rec league, and although I would show up for practice, they never invited me to play in games. I practiced with them for an entire year and never played a game. It would actually take until the 4th grade for me to play a game of organized basketball. I wasn’t the best player on the court and I didn’t score every game, but I was determined to get better.”
Now an 8th grade student, Khalis has grown from a 4th grader in a recreational league to excel on an off the court. “I know school is also a place where I truly push myself to do my best. My mom has always stressed to me how important education is and so it comes first even before basketball. My favorite subject is writing because it gives me a chance to express myself in creative ways.”
Over the past two years, Khalis has participated in PYB’s Collegiate Summer Camp Series and our HoopHers (Girls Empowerment Program) before being given the opportunity to join the Treasure Beach Camp experience. Khalis also plays AAU basketball for Philly Triple Threat, which is an AAU organization run by PYB’s Co-Founder and Program Director, Eric Worley.
Khalis shared that her experience in Jamaica was “a game changer.” “I was able to share something I love with children who were so dedicated and committed to learning everything I had to teach them. I met campers who walked miles to camp, some even in sandals to learn this game I love. They proved to me that when you really want something, there is never an excuse big enough to get in the way of showing up. However, it was on the court under the hot sun where I learned the biggest lessons from them. Their enthusiasm to get everything out of this experience, even in extreme temperatures and in most cases with less than adequate gear taught me to appreciate even more than already had the opportunity to pursue everything with their energy. The encouragement more advanced players showed to lesser skilled players in my group really inspired me to be a better leader. I saw the power of good energy and teamwork. I hope that on my hard days ( on and off the court), I remember this lesson and the positive feeling that comes from sharing what you love with others. I came back home committed to not just working on my basketball game but understanding how I can improve in other areas so that I can share even more of myself with others.”
Cire Worley – 7th Grade Student, Abington Friends School
Cire is the daughter of PYB’s Co-Founder and Program Director, Eric Worley, and a long time athlete for Philly Triple Threat. “I starting playing basketball at 4 years old, I started in the Philly Triple Threat grassroots program and now play for their 7th grade girls team.” Cire’s talent and passion for the game is not surprising due to the fact that the game has been a part of her life since she was born. From watching her older sister, Di’anna Thomas-Palmer, play throughout high school and college, to now making a name for herself, Cire is a true Philadelphia Basketball girl. In addition to basketball, also enjoys dance, cheerleading and soccer.
Cire has been involved with PYB for the past two summers in our Collegiate Summer Camp Series. “The best part about the PYB Camps is playing in the afternoon competitive games, NBA Math Hoops and lunch.”
With her positive attitude and hard work, Cire was given the opportunity to participate in PYB’s International Leadership Initiative at Treasure Beach, Jamaica. One of her fondest memories from the trip was helping give out over 500 pairs of sneakers to the kids at camp. “I even left two pairs of my own basketball sneakers with a couple of girls that didn’t own a pair of their own. I left Jamaica feeling really good about being able to teach the kids what I’ve learned over the years at Philly Triple Threat and PYB. Just having the chance to go out there and to do some things I normally don’t do in Philly was really cool.”
Olin Chamberlain Jr. – 5th Grade Student, Oak Ridge Elementary
Olin Chamberlain Jr. is the son of PYB Board Member, Olin Chamberlain Sr. and was the youngest leader to join PYB in Jamaica. Despite being the youngest, Olin Jr. approached every day in Jamaica with fearless enthusiasm and maturity that set a wonderful example for the other young campers and coaches. During the week, one camper even asked Coach MaryKate how old Olin was because she didn’t believe he was only 10 years old, she thought he was 16!
“Everyone was so nice and generous and made me feel like part of the team. I felt so good to work with the other kids, I hope I get invited back next year.”
Olin is excited to take what he learned from his experience as a mentor to his peers in Treasure Beach and apply that to his leadership work in school. Olin is currently in 5th grade at Oak Ridge Elementary in Harleysville, and has been selected to be a trained Peer Mediator and a mentor for new students coming into Oak Ridge. Olin is also part of the Orchestra (Violin) and Chorus, Spanish Club, Just Say No Club, Reading Olympics, Wake Up Club and a producer for the weekly school television show at Oak Ridge.
Outside of school Olin has many interests. He enjoys playing basketball, football and soccer. In his free time, Olin enjoys reading, riding his bike around the neighborhood and visiting with family. In the future, Olin would like to be an Attorney, NBA Commissioner or NBA player.
Ife West-Ingram – 8th Grade Student, Cedarbrook Middle School
Ife is another young leader who grew up in the Philly Triple Threat Organization and has more recently participated in PYB’s programming. In addition to basketball, Ife enjoys playing tennis and football and is a talented young chef! In school his favorite subject is English and he wants to go to college to study architecture.
When selecting young people for PYB’s trip to Treasure Beach, Coach Eric Worley knew Ife would succeed due to his undeniable talent, his confident independence, and his creativity. During his time in Jamaica, Ife worked both as a mentor for the young campers as well as a competitor against the older players. He transitioned between a motivational mentor to a fierce competitor that set an example for all the coaches.
Ife’s trip to Treasure Beach was not his first experience in Jamaica. He had traveled to Montego Bay previously for a family vacation, however, this experience was quite different. On the bus ride from the airport Ife shared that he “had never seen this part of Jamaica.” Reflecting further upon his experience in Jamaica Ife said, “The trip to Jamaica was a great experience. It taught me to be more appreciative and to help others.” It was this perspective that originally motivated PYB to launch our International Youth Leadership Initiative. Exposing our young people to different cultures and countries provides them with a unique opportunity at a very young age to appreciate all they have while being informed of the world around them.
Written by MaryKate O’Brien, Community Mobilization Coordinator.