Our society continues to be plagued with disease, negativity, and conflict in large quantities. However, darkness cannot survive without light both literally and symbolically. This comparison can be portrayed in many ways in society. Even with dark times upon the community, Paris has a bright shining light just outside of its downtown square.
The Titus Basketball Academy was born from the idea and dream of a man who has high levels of experience both on the hardwood and in his Christian faith. Inspiration was the foundation of the academy’s inception rather than a concrete plan.
“I was at a gym here in town. I love basketball and at that point in time, I was working at a bank,” said Tsavonti Daniels, founder and head coach of the Titus Basketball Academy. “It was really good, but I was not feeling fulfilled. I wasn’t doing anything with basketball and I was at this gym watching interactions and dynamics between different players who were having different conversations about them on the court, basketball players from games they have watched and I started to see that as a common ground for basketball. I started to process all of this after coming off the court from a loss, and I thought, ‘Man, it would be really cool if I could figure out how to mix basketball with Jesus.’ From there, Titus Basketball Academy was formed.”
As for the work on the court, Daniels emphasizes instilling the basics and strengthening his campers’ intangibles.
“We work with them strictly on fundamentals,” Daniels said. “I’m a big believer in needing to know the basics before getting into complex skills and things like that. We focus a ton on ball handling, defense, shooting form, the team dynamic of how to be a great team player and communication along with how that looks. We also tie in some game-time situations as well.”
In order to adequately build up his campers, Daniels promotes positive practices through encouragement.
“With some of the basketball skills we teach, for example, I was working with a kid and he was actually struggling with his confidence,” Daniels said. “When the drill gets too challenging, they kind of mope down. One thing we try to do in the context of what we do here, I encourage him to do is either self-talk or think about something positive. Sometimes, it can get as deep as, ‘you can do it.’”
Daniels at times will take things a step further with a hands-on approach to help campers tackle mental obstacles standing in their way.
“I also have a bad word in here, and that bad word is ‘I can’t,’” Daniels said. “If I ever see a kid who has that type of body language or even says those words, I stop them and tell them to ‘get that out of here’ and have them visually throw that mindset out of the door.”
Establishing a welcoming, encouraging environment to pair with effective training methods and practices must have a powerful source to make it all work. The Titus Basketball Academy has just that in its strong, spiritual base.
“It’s the foundation for everything we do,” said Robyn Marr, the academy’s Director of Communications and Daniels’ partner. “We look at Titus as a ministry to show kids they can be amazing at basketball, have the coolest sneakers and do all of those things without conforming to the world and instead, doing it Jesus’ way while still being awesome.”
For Marr and Daniels, running the academy together has strengthened their personal relationship. Along with this, it has helped the couple realize the fruits of their labor through their work of organically building their business and diligent dedication to God.
“God is continuing to bless Titus when we are doing this God’s way and not man’s way — we are putting Him first,” Marr said. “We are not married, we are together. But to put Him first and do it His way, and to see the blessings He continues to bestow upon us and our family has helped grow this. The only marketing we’ve done has been on Facebook and through word of mouth. To see how far he (Tsavonti) has come even before me in 2016 to where we are now in 2020, there’s no other explanation but for Jesus being the foundation of this.”
In addition to Marr’s takeaways, Daniels has benefited greatly as well as the whole experience has helped sharpen him and his role in important aspects of his life.
“Just like in any kind of team or business, there has been tension where we have to conflict resolution,” Daniels said. “There are times where we don’t always agree, but the biggest thing in today’s world is that we respect each other’s opinion whether we agree with it or disagree with it. We always like to say that we can agree to disagree, but we always try to compromise and find that solid ground where I can give little here, and you can give a little here. It has helped our personal relationship, with the Lord, with family, with friends and finding sympathy and understanding in what is said. It has really helped us grow in all aspects of our lives.”
Ultimately, games and playing days come and go but growing never stops, which is an important message both Daniels and Marr are aiming to send to the public.
“It’s more than just basketball,” Daniels said. “Yes, your kids come in to get basketball training, however, we love kids and want to make sure we are building young leaders. We always talk about it a ton. We don’t build kids just to be a part of the crowd. It’s okay to be unique and it’s okay to be yourself because God made only one of you. To be comfortable in who you are outside of basketball and us being investing and loving — that is our hope. Our hope is that you come here and it’s more than just basketball. We want people to think, ‘Wow, they love Jesus and this is a safe and fun environment.’ We love the community of Paris. We love serving and our hope is that maybe in a couple of years, we are able to give back in a major way whether it’s discipleship, youth conferences, or whatever that would look like. We just want to build strong leaders for the community. If everybody is doing their part in investing in the youth, five, six, 10 or 20 years from now, it’s going to make the community better.”
“We look to be intentional with the time we have with our youth,” Marr said. “We are more than just basketball, so let’s invest in that and be intentional with our time. We talk about social media all the time and for ourselves not just our children to put limits on that. We really want to talk with, invest and get God’s word out whether it is with our own children or other children. We don’t want to just act like, ‘Oh hey, you’re here.’”
The spread of COVID-19 has posed problems for small businesses, but through meticulous preparation and attention to detail, the company’s reputation has remained strong.
“One way we’ve been able to combat the coronavirus is making sure everyone is six feet apart,” Daniels said. “We have really had to be intentional with our scheduling. We typically don’t have more than eight kids in the gym, which is very difficult because we have kids coming in every single week wanting to work out. We have parents coming in wanting to register their kids to get them active or if their kids love the game. We make sure to sanitize everything after each session and we make sure the kids don’t touch the balls that aren’t theirs. From a business standpoint, we have been very blessed to be able to keep going with our small group. Parents are very receptive to how we’re doing things, so they’ve been very happy with how we’ve handled the coronavirus so far.”
The Titus Basketball Academy is located at 122 Lamar Avenue. It offers prospective participants monthly memberships to choose from, based on age. The camp runs each week from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and is closed on Sunday.
Boy and girl campers from first through fifth grades “Little Athletes” can participate for $60 per month for a single one-hour session per week for four weeks, or can be admitted for $75 per month for two one-hour workouts per week.
For campers entering grades six through eight “Junior Athletes,” single one-hour sessions per week for four weeks costs $80, while two hour-long workouts per week cost $95 per month. Those entering high school can sign up for $105 and $125 for one and two hour-long workouts per week for a month, respectively.
For any questions or more information, visit the organization’s Facebook page, send a private message to the Facebook page, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 903-609-2019.