Trent Hendrick, 12, rushed up and down the basketball court with his teammates — whom he described as being like family to him — as they competed in championship games Wednesday night at the VCU Siegel Center.
In the stands, his mom and dad, Crystal and Kevin Hendrick, and other parents cheered as the players showed off their dribbling, passing and shooting skills as the CarMax Summer League held its final games of the season.
“This is his third year playing in the CarMax league,” Crystal Hendrick said of her son. “He loves the team. He loves playing basketball. We look forward to it every year. It’s a great gathering of people getting together. It’s a nice family atmosphere.”
Also in the stands following the players’ techniques was basketball-loving CarMax CEO Thomas J. Folliard, who is stepping down at the end of August from the top management position at Goochland County-based CarMax.
Folliard, who joined CarMax in 1993 and was named CEO in 2006, stepped aside Feb. 1 as president. He is expected to be named the retailer’s non-executive board chairman when he retires as CEO.
Folliard has presided over CarMax during a period of phenomenal growth for the Fortune 500 company. It is also named to Fortune’s 2016 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” coming in at No. 85.
But as Folliard sat on the sidelines with his wife, Mary, and CarMax executives and employees, he talked with pride about the people who came together to make the summer league a success, giving scores of youth something to do on warm summer evenings and the chance to learn to be leaders and team players — traits good for both personal and business success.
The summer league is a partnership among CarMax, the CarMax Foundation and the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. The league is based at the park department’s Pine Camp Cultural Arts and Community Center complex on the city’s North Side.
This year’s league ran six weeks, with about 500 participants who came from all over the region. Each evening they gathered for games and ended the night with a meal provided as part of the program.
“Our goal initially was to give kids something to do, something to occupy them,” said Christopher Williams, director of the CarMax Summer League.
“We’ve seen the impact. We have had kids come in at 9 years old (who) played for 10 years and have gone on to college and even the pros. Our kids go to (Division 1 and Division 2) programs to play basketball and go to school, or get careers, or go into the military. It’s been a joy to watch them develop and mature over a 10-year process,” Williams said.
The program started as an idea Folliard had, recalling his own days as a youngster playing basketball outdoors in the summers.
“I played in leagues in Providence, R.I., and Boston, Mass. I got involved with (Amateur Athletic Union) when my son was 10 or 11 or 12, and I was around a lot of kids who could use some help,” Folliard said.
“It was really hard to get gym time and there wasn’t really anything in the summer unless you went to play with AAU and you traveled. I thought about the summer leagues I did as a kid and I thought about doing it here in Richmond,” he said.
It took about three years to get all the pieces into place, Folliard said. During the first year of the league in 2007, about 200 youth participated.
The outcome has far exceeded his expectations, Folliard said.
Over the past 10 years, CarMax and the CarMax Foundation have invested close to $1 million in the league, and the automotive retailer plans to continue to support it.
CarMax donations have paid for league staff, operations and infrastructure, including the cost of maintaining and upgrading the outdoor basketball courts and refurbishing a building at Pine Camp that the league used for office space.
Initially, there were just two basketball courts for the youth to play on, but the program grew to the point that an additional court was added, paid for by CarMax, to accommodate all the youth who wanted to join the league.
The courts are resurfaced every year, and are open to the community when the league is not using them.
Participation is free and open to boys and girls ages 9 to 17 years.
“You go by there anytime, and you will see all three courts filled,” Williams said.
“Sundays you go out there, guys are out there at 8 o’clock in the morning to sundown, playing music, playing basketball,” he said.
At Wednesday night’s games, some former league participants who are now playing college basketball returned for a 20-minute alumni game.
Folliard reflected on the impact on him personally to see the program touch so many lives.
“I see a lot of kids that end up with a safe place to go at night, a safe place to play. If you looked at Pine Camp 10 years ago and you looked at it today, I feel proud that CarMax has had a hand in revitalizing that park somewhat,” he said.