Cavalier grad bringing youth together through hoops

Apr. 17, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Anytime basketball players from Southern Lee and Lee County match up, it's competitive. That goes during spring break. It goes if it's about six months before the next high school season tips off.

Tuesday afternoon's games at the Bob E. Hales Center, though, were done out of a spirit of friendship and fellowship as much as rivalry. Former Southern Lee gridiron standout Princeton Tabon wants Tuesday's games to become the start of something new to help the county's youth.

Tabon graduated from Southern Lee in 2008 and is a graduate of Elizabeth City State University. On the football field, he was a wingback for the Cavaliers, then a receiver, making the team as a freshman as a walk-on, for the Vikings.

Tabon wants, with help from the community, to turn these games into monthly events.

"I want the next event to be for middle school kids," said Tabon.

"In time, we're looking to create camps," he said.

It's partly about kids having ways to improve their games, Tabon said, but it's also about being a mentor and guiding kids, even while Tabon's a young guy himself, on lessons such as the importance of grades and what it takes to be a college student - whether or not as a football or basketball player along the way.

"Something I can pass along is dedication. Anyone who knows sports, knows what sacrifice is, what work is," Tabon said.

"And work matters for any place you're at in life. In sports, in school, in a job, you can take that work, the time you put into something, and you can be successful."

The first try at basketball games at the old Armory building started a little slow. A few minutes before 4 p.m., when the event was to start, Tabon and one other guy were there just shooting hoops. A little later though, more than 30 high school kids had turned out.

"I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to hosting more events like this," he said. "As long as we're getting support, I'll put it on for these kids."