Like American pioneer John Chapman, who earned the nickname “Johnny Appleseed” by planting fruit trees throughout the northern territories in the early decades of our nation, some Bradley County …
Like American pioneer John Chapman, who earned the nickname “Johnny Appleseed” by planting fruit trees throughout the northern territories in the early decades of our nation, some Bradley County ambassadors have been sharing our local values in Eastern Oklahoma and beyond for more than a half century.
They are also in their third year of "returning to our roots and giving back to the community that gave us those values."
"We have planted the 'Cleveland Seed' in different parts of the Tulsa area,” declared legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Terry Scott during the third annual Scott Family LETS Camp this week at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“Me, Greg (Davis), Alvin (Scott) and Lloyd (Ware), all made the connection between here and Oral Roberts University. Three of us (all but Alvin, who went on to a career in the NBA) stayed in the Tulsa area as coaches. We have taught the values we learned here (Bradley County) to our players.
“That’s what we want to do in this camp. We want to give back to Cleveland for what it has done for us.
“Like the old saying, 'You can take boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy.’ We're that way. We're Cleveland and you can't take that out of us,” he added.
This year's camp had a total of 289 total participants, counting those who came on multiple days.
"We averaged just over 72 kids a day," related former Bradley Central all-stater and Tennessee Lady Vol Gloria (Scott) Deathridge.
The Scotts were once again assisted in the effort by several out-of-town volunteers, as well as the Bradley Central Bear and state champion Bearette players and coaches.
"Each and every year the camp is getting better," proclaimed former Phoenix Suns standout Alvin Scott. "The kids are engaged in what we are trying to do here, not just the fundamentals of basketball, but the life skills as well.
"The kids have been smiling and paying attention with the special speakers we've had in to talk to them about education, the local fire department came in and did a program, Mickey Clark from Crossroads Church and Women's National Hall of Fame member Carolyn Bush Roddy.
"You can tell the kids are having fun because when its 12 o'clock, they don't want to go home. They're still out there playing ball when the parents are coming to pick them up and they don't want to leave," he related.
"The kids are constantly asking, 'Are you going to do it (the camp) again next year?' They are already looking forward to it again. That gets us excited about coming back."
Scott siblings Terry, Levi, Gloria and Alvin were all standout athletes at Bradley Central and pioneers in the racial desegregation of the local school system in the 1960s.
Terry and Levi were two of the first three African-American students to integrate Bradley, while just a few years later, Gloria became the first to play for the Bearettes.
"We, as the Scott family, are so proud of Bradley County and Cleveland supporting us in what we are trying to do for our kids," Alvin expressed. "It's all about the kids, smiling and having fun.
"It's special that we get to do this as a family. I don't get to see my family as much as I'd like because we are all over the country — Arizona, Oklahoma, Knoxville, Chattanooga — but being able to get together and do this as a family is very special. We have fun. We laugh. We get to enjoy one another."
"We make this a family reunion as well as a camp," remarked Terry.
"It's a lot of preparation to put on a camp like this. We work all year round to get this camp done," explained Alvin, who's foundation spearheads the fund raising for the event that is free to the participants. "It is a total family effort and very well worth it just to see the smiles on the kids faces."
"The Phoenix Suns and the NBA Players Association contribute, as well as others from around the country, and plenty from here in town. We appreciate what they all do and we are hoping to have more sponsors join us, so we can do even more for the kids next time," he added.
For Terry this camp has been special as it is the first where his health has improved since battling cancer.
"I had prostate cancer," the 71-year-old related. "Cancer is prevalent in my family — my sister (Gloria) is in remission, but my mother and dad died of cancer.
"My PSA test scores were erratic and I was feeling tired back in 2017, but we couldn't figure out why. We knew something was wrong, but we were having a hard time finding out what.
"Finally a young doctor (urologist) out of Texas, who had just moved to Tulsa, got involved and just after Christmas 2017, sent me for a one-hour MRI that only detects cancer in the prostate.
"We got the results and found out it was cancer in early 2018," the eldest sibling continued. "We set up a surgery to take care of it, but when we were going to do it, I had stroke-like symtoms and spent a week in the hospital for that.
"Then, within a week I came down with pancreatitis and had to go back into the hospital.
"Finally after another month, and being able to get all that medicine out of my system, the doctor was able to remove the cancer (March 7, 2018). The Lord worked it out well enough that I didn't have to do any radiation or chemotherapy, but the doctor warned me it was going to be a slow recovery.
"When I was here last year for the camp, I was still pretty weak," Terry confessed. "It took almost a full year before I finally started feeling my strength come back this past March.
"I feel much better now. I'm cancer free and doing well. I'm probably as good the last two or three years I coached," he declared.
He even told reporter Barry Lewis of the Tulsa World newspaper back in January that he'd like to get back into high school basketball in some form.
“I don’t want to be a head coach, but I would like to be a consultant, help some program somewhere,” said Scott, who had 456 career wins, most of them at (Tulsa) Central, where he coached from 1986-2008 and won three state titles.
Terry was one of 13 inductees into the Tulsa Public Schools Athletics Hall of Fame at the time of the interview. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Coaches, the Tournament of Champions and Bradley County Old Timers halls of fame.
Hired as the first African-American fulltime faculty member at Oral Roberts University, Terry spent 11 years at his alma mater before moving into the public high school ranks.
Lewis' article related that after being hired as the track coach at Booker T. Washington High School, Scott broke the color barrier once again as basketball coach and athletic director at Central.
”Being a part of that drive for equality, I think of all the young men and women whose lives I’ve touched and I’ve been blessed,” Scott was quoted in the article.
Coming full circle from their upbringing, the Scott siblings are providing a great blessing to the Cleveland/Bradley County community with their efforts to share their love for basketball, and more importantly life, with a future generation of young people.
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