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Lessons for Immokalee kids stretch beyond basketball

Tony Perkins teaches Immokalee kids how to get into defensive mode during a well-attended basketball clinic in the gym March 16. (Beverly Bidney photo)

IMMOKALEE — Life’s lessons can often be learned while playing sports – a philosophy adhered to by former St. Thomas University basketball player Tony Perkins during his basketball clinics.

Perkins brought his Tony Perkins Basketball Academy to the Immokalee Reservation’s Boys & Girls Club on March 16. More than 20 youngsters age 7 to 16 honed their skills on the court through skills and drills intermixed with those all-important life lessons.

“A lot of things on the court correlate to real life,” Perkins said. “Respect the rules, pay attention, play hard all the time and follow directions.”

Originally from Immokalee, Perkins is also a scout and attends AAU events to identify young basketball talent throughout the state. His academy also offers summer basketball camps and skills training sessions.

Assisted by former Florida Memorial University basketball head coach Kenny Bellinger, the clinic taught the fundamentals of the game and life, along with the discipline necessary to succeed at both.

“As coaches, we encourage you guys to mess up,” Perkins said. “That’s the only way you gain confidence and learn the game.”

That led to a couple of hours of foot work, coordination and stamina drills. Learning to be tough on the court was another important lesson imparted by Perkins.

The budding athletes also learned proper shooting technique and form, zig zag dribbling and had a fun lay-up relay race. Another relay race combined the defensive slide maneuver to the out-of-bounds line and then a sprint to the middle of the court.

“When the clinic was over, they all wanted more,” said Immokalee Boys & Girls Club manager Patrick Shepard, who attended Immokalee High School with Perkins. “They were excited and wanted me to get him back in the future. Until then, we will keep it going with our staff a couple of times a week.”

Tony Perkins provides instruction to Immokalee kids during a basketball clinic in the reservation’s gym March 16. (Beverly Bidney photo)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at