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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Good for Corliss. He's giving a lot back to his hometown of Russellville.

Dream Coming True For Former Hog Williamson
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Column By Harry King

Arkansas News Bureau/RazorbackCentral

When Corliss Williamson moved to Russellville, there was no boys and girls club. Almost every weekend, his parents carted him to Little Rock and other communities for organized basketball.

Even now, the boys and girls club rents an old tobacco warehouse and the only basketball goals are two portable ones stationed on a concrete parking lot. The club has more than 90 basketball teams with almost 1,000 players, but the games are played in gyms rented from schools in Russellville and Dardanelle.

Some volunteer coaches, looking for a place to practice, have become strong church members. If the weather is nice, practice is sometimes outside.

More than a year ago, when Williamson, a Detroit Pistons forward and former Arkansas All-American, and Mayor Raye Turner started talking about the NBA veteran's desire to do something for Russellville, a new boys and girls club was a natural.

"He had a dream," Turner said. "The boys and girls club definitely had a need."

A few years earlier, Turner had talked her father, Ward Ramsay, into buying 39 acres of prime property in Russellville. The siblings of two schoolteachers of a longtime Russellville family were willing to help and let the land go at a reasonable price. Since then, Ramsay has waited patiently, letting the land sit idle.

Williamson and the mayor visited the James Park area where Williamson used to shoot baskets outside, but the land was not adequate. Then, she showed him her father's land close to the high school, between 16th and 19th street -- about three miles from the current facility.

Ramsay agreed to donate 5-10 acres, whatever was needed. That way, Turner said, Williamson's "dream can be as large as he wants it to be."

He knows basketball is not for everybody. The new facility will have computers, library, ball fields, etc. If he wants to dream bigger, there is land available for an aquatic center.

"He's very diversified and that's one of the strong characteristics Corliss has," Turner said. "He understands that not everybody can be a Corliss. Children can have a variety of avenues to pursue."

Others agree and understand the dream.

"He wanted a facility where kids could come, play ball, have computers, a place to go after school or when their parents were working," said Cathy Andrasik, executive director of the current club. "He listened to what we do in our program and it's along the lines of what he wants to see done for kids in the area."

The project, she said, is an accurate read on his integrity.

The mayor says the facility could cost between $2.3 million to $3 million. She is hoping Williamson will commit for a $1 million pledge. After that, there would be a capital fund drive.

Whatever Williamson does, the project will be one of four to benefit from a basketball game Saturday night in North Little Rock. Others include P.A.R.K., the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and the Tidwell Project.

Williamson, who won the NBA's "Sixth Man Award" this year, and Little Rock native Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers already have done some clinics in Russellville and Fisher is one of those who has agreed to participate this week. Others include a couple of Williamson's Pistons teammates, former Razorbacks players Joe Johnson, Todd Day, Lee Mayberry and Little Rock native Quincy Lewis, plus several members of Arkansas' 1994 national championship team which Williamson anchored.
07-11-2002 09:14 AM
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DrSquealGood Offline
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Go out Sat. night to alltell and see Legends in the Rock.....you can see a lot of former razorback players.....such as Corlis and Joe Johnson....and its for a really good cause.
07-11-2002 01:41 PM
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