Man showing two children how to play basketball

Cavell Johnson was known for his hustle and grit as a player on the basketball court. Now, he’s showing that same character off of it.

The former professional basketball player and current head coach of the KW Titans noticed how youth were being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With many normal programs for kids paused in the community, Johnson found an opportunity to give back in a safe way.

“Throughout different times of this whole situation, we’ve overlooked the struggle that our youth go through,” Johnson said. “I wanted to allow them to feel some sense of control in an atmosphere where they had none.”

Last summer during the National Basketball League off-season, and with the regular season hanging in the balance, Johnson brought his passion for basketball to the community.

He hosted physically distant training sessions in driveways so girls and boys could hone their basketball skills with the Titans coach. They learned the fundamentals of the game including dribbling, passing and shooting, but most importantly, how to have a positive mindset. For Johnson, the program was less about developing basketball players and more about keeping kids engaged during a challenging time.

“If you give them some skills to work on and develop themselves, with the sport specifically and with their mental approach to life as well, it gives them some sense of control and allows them to find joy in the midst of struggle,” Johnson said.

Cavell was featured in Kitchener’s 2021 State of the City video along with other business owners, residents and everyday heroes who have helped us get through the pandemic together. Mayor Berry Vrbanovic highlighted our community spirit during a challenging time, and thanked all of the people and partners who have helped keep us connected and resilient.