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Beyond the court: How one local coach is teaching basketball skills and life lessons

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) - Terry Smith started the Top City Lakers 13 years ago to coach his son.

Little did he know, the Lakers would expand to 14 teams for which he and other volunteers would serve as coaches and most importantly, as mentors for dozens of kids across Topeka.

Shooting, ball handling and defense are just some of the things these young athletes are learning.

While it's always been important for Terry and the rest of the coaches to teach them the necessary skills on the court, the impact they have on the kids for what they do off the court is just as important.

All 14 teams are comprised of kids of all ages from different backgrounds, with some in desperate need of a role model.

"My idea is to reach those kids in the community and give them something positive to help them out going forward and helping them grow as an individual," said Smith.

While they may come from different backgrounds, the kids are all brought together by one common goal.

Because of that, they're able to form friendships, gain confidence and learn how to work together.

That's what Mark Miller whose daughter plays for the team says he loves seeing when watching her play.

"Seeing them get better, and have more confidence in themselves, because that helps not just in sports, but in life and school and longer and later in life," said Miller. "It really helps them."

Terry never thought he would end up impacting so many lives over the past 13 years.

"I'll see them out and about during the summer time when they're back from college and they give you a hug like they were my kid," said Smith. "You know, that's the rewarding part about doing this for so many years."

Seeing former players become successful young adults is the ultimate reward.

Smith also runs a youth basketball camp during the spring. If you would like more information on the camp or on how to join the team, click HERE.


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