During the warm summer months in Richmond, the action heats up on the Tom Folliard Basketball Courts at Pine Camp. For 12 years, The CarMax Foundation has partnered with the city of Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities to run the CarMax Summer Basketball League. To date, more than 4,000 youth have participated.
This summer’s games kicked off on June 18 and will run through July 25. More than 500 youth from across Richmond have joined teams and are playing in a free, competitive league. This experience is about much more than just basketball. While the on-court activities focus on developing basketball skills and engaging in physical activity, the athletes are also getting early lessons in teamwork, communication and perseverance.
The league started with the vision of CarMax’s former CEO Tom Folliard. An avid basketball player, Folliard grew up playing in Boston and used the sport as a vehicle to develop leadership skills and give back to the community. Together with Richmond city leaders, Folliard brought his passion for basketball and the life skills that it can teach to the north side of Richmond. The partnership included CarMax and its foundation investing in upgrades to Pine Camp as well as providing funding to support league operations. While this was a vision of Folliard’s, it has carried on through current CEO Bill Nash’s tenure. Nash, along with other CarMax volunteers, continues the tradition of cheering on players each summer and celebrating the growth of the program since it first launched in 2007.
Matt Aman, president of The CarMax Foundation, is also supportive of the investment, “Basketball is a great way to draw the kids and the community together, and the program that the city provides enables the players to stay engaged in a fun way throughout the summer, year after year. It is great to see players returning each year and to watch them develop and mature while playing the game they love.”
The league also works to meet other needs for the youth including providing a hot meal for the participants every night that they play games. The city’s police department has also been a key partner since the league’s inception. Many of the same officers enjoy staffing the games annually. Sergeant Adams, the head officer onsite, makes a point of talking to everyone out on the courts, whether siblings, parents or players.
CarMax employees also provide support for the league. One employee, Tony Elam, has been a volunteer since the beginning and has witnessed the impact it has had on individuals as well as the community. “The league brings people together. I have seen kids grow up in the league, then play high school basketball, and go on to play in college,” said Elam. “But it also has a tremendous impact on the community. Every year more and more folks come out to watch basketball games, cheer on the athletes, and you get to see the sense of community that has developed. I look forward to the start of each season as I get to see so many friends and familiar faces.”
The league provides many great experiences for league players, city of Richmond employees, the Richmond police and CarMax associates. They are all thankful for a fun and competitive league that provides a safe and healthful opportunity during the summer for so many children. Without the help and cooperation of everyone this league would not be possible.
Games are played Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., weather permitting, at Pine Camp and include U10 through U17 teams. Championship games for each age bracket will be played on July 25. For more information, email email@example.com or follow the CarMax Summer League on Facebook.
This feature is one in a series about the Richmond Region’s nonprofit organizations and their contributions to our communities.
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