By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Team Watkins Sports Facility in Fairmont is helping kids of all ages and abilities improve their game.
On Dec. 1, Carl Watkins opened this gym in the Winfield area. It is located less than a mile off Exit 139 (East Fairmont/Pricketts Creek Road) of I-79 at 122 Winfield School Road, beside Fairmont Tire and Auto Repair and close to the Winfield Community Building and United Dairy.
Watkins, who has played basketball for many years, offers private basketball lessons and basketball camps and clinics. He works with boys and girls of all age groups who are at various skill levels — from new to experienced basketball players.
“I want to see them get better,” he said. “If you want your kid to get to college (basketball) or maybe professional one day, it’s about skills. Skill level’s got to be there.”
A lock-in basketball camp for fourth- through eighth-grade boys has been scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Registration begins at 9 p.m., and food is included in the cost.
Watkins has held three other camps at the facility so far, and the number of participants has increased each time. He expects the upcoming event to bring in 40 or 50 kids.
Watkins is the regional director for the Jr. Phenom Camp in San Diego, Calif., and will be sending some of the best players from West Virginia to compete there.
Team Watkins Sports Facility is also available to rent for birthday parties — and has already been used for several events — as well as team practices. The Mountain Rage Volleyball Club, for instance, rents the gym two times a week.
In addition, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, Watkins has an open gym for high school girls who want to come play volleyball and work on their skills.
Watkins, originally from Vernon, N.Y., played basketball for two years at Monroe Community College, where he was first-team All-American and averaged about 30 points a game. He was offered a scholarship to Salem University, where he was National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) second-team All-American and West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) first team all-conference.
Next, Watkins traveled to the Virgin Islands. He played professional basketball there for a year — with a 26 or 27 point-per-game average — and was named Most Valuable Player. Then, he spent a year in Germany and was also MVP in the league, finishing with an average of 34 or 35 points a game.
About 15 years ago, Watkins returned to West Virginia because he felt there were opportunities and options for him in the state. Since then, he has been doing basketball training on and off, and he recently decided to open his own gym, which was always his dream and plan.
The young people whom he trains are from across the area, including Grafton, Fairmont, Bridgeport and Morgantown. Watkins, who lives in Morgantown, wanted to establish his sports facility in a place that was convenient for the kids in terms of travel time, and he thought Fairmont would be a great location in the middle.
Also, Watkins said he had heard people in the community comment that the East Side of Fairmont badly needed a sports facility.
Previously, the building in East Fairmont beside Fairmont Tire and Auto Repair was basically a warehouse and storage space. After the gym floor was laid down and a bathroom was installed, the space was transformed into a sports facility.
Watkins has additional plans in mind for the building and hopes to start doing basketball tournaments and leagues there in the future.
He said the gym also gives his kids a place to practice basketball.
Watkins is married to Shannon, who is a registered nurse at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Their children include 17-year-old A.J. Calvert, who attends Morgantown High School; 5-year-old Parker; 3-year-old Kendrick; and 9-month-old Naomi.
Call Team Watkins Sports Facility at 681-404-5609 or 304-319-2403 for more information or to find out prices for training or rental.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.