Former NBA player and North Eleuthera High School basketball coach Dexter Cambridge recently led a student-athlete contingent to Orlando, Florida for a four-day trip that included a visit to the Orlando Magic training facility.
The trip was facilitated by long-time residents of South Eleuthera, William Douglass and the DeVos family as part of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, which partners with the Orlando Magic. The team was also supported by veteran Coach and Educator Mr. Tony Crean and chaperoned by retired Inspector of Police Mr. Lucas Armbrister.
“As an advocate for youth and all things Eleuthera, I thought it was a great opportunity to support Dexter and his coaching team by exposing these young men and nurture their dreams of becoming professionally athletes, obtaining college degrees and giving back to their communities, as Dexter is doing,” said Douglass.
Having played professionally in the United States and internationally, and leading a national team in regional competitions, Cambridge continues to use his career to inspire his players that they too can pursue a professional basketball career. The trip to Orlando was the latest glimpse of what is possible for the young man.
Immediately after touching down in Orlando, the 10 players were given full access to the RDV Sportsplex, an Orlando Magic training facility. This included two days of scrimmaging and full court drills at the practice gym.
On the fourth day of the trip, Cambridge and the Eleutheran team played a friendly game against the Dame Doris Johnson basketball team, who were also visiting the Orlando Magic facility. Although no scores were recorded, it was a competitive game that made passersby take notice.
The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative aims to make a positive impact on disadvantaged and urban youth by investing in their community leaders. When informed that the Eleutheran team and coaching staff would be visiting Orlando, Gerald Bell, Director of Communications for the Initiative, said it was an easy decision to play a role in a memorable experience.
Bell said that he was thrilled to coordinate the team’s access to the Magic’s training facilities, stating that the staff there were enthusiastic to accommodate the young men.
“Someday stories will be told by these young men about how their Orlando visit helped to shape the reality of their future in a positive way. While it will require a lot of dedication from the team and their coaches, I am confident they will make the most of this experience as they remain on their journey of learning and growing as student-athletes,” Bell said.
The players also met Ryan DeVos, son of the Magic team owner, and the late Richard DeVos. During an official tour of the Amway Arena, the team watched as the Magic and the Toronto Raptors had a warm-up shot around prior to their playoff match-up. Just before tip-off, the Magic players spoke and took photos with the Bahamian team.
Each outfitted with Magic basketball jerseys, the young Bahamians watched the game from VIP seats behind the Magic bench. They joined the rowdy Orlando fans as the home team rallied from a 15-point deficit and later took the lead three times. Despite the losing effort, the Magic game was a highlight of the trip.
Team personnel, Tony Crean said, “We left the arena disappointed, but with memories to last a lifetime” and still a great close to the day.
Bell added, “I know how meaningful it is for young people to have rare opportunities such as holding practice in an official NBA team’s practice gym, attending an NBA playoff game, touring a major arena like the Amway Center and even having photo ops with a member of the Orlando Magic team and ownership. Those experiences can transform the mind of a young person giving them a greater sense of confidence in their own potential and self-worth.”
As the trip came to an end, both coaches and hosts expressed a shared hope to continue to support future efforts like this one for years to come.