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LOSSES CAN MAKE YOU STRONGER.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

Former Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey said handling defeat in sports can help build character. The 17-year NBA veteran also said the Blazers are doing a little bit of character building of their own as the franchise attempts to jettison its bad boy image.

Teamwork, respect for teammates and opponents, instilling an ethic of hard work and dedication are more important than winning, Kersey said Saturday before about 50 people at a luncheon celebrating Emerald Kidsports' 50th anniversary.

"Certainly playing hard and losing has its dignity," Kersey said. "Sometimes the losses make you stronger."

The daylong Kidsports event, "A Celebration of Sports," included clinics and a sports and fitness exposition at the Len Casanova Center and the Moshofsky Center at Autzen Stadium. The event concluded with a hall of fame dinner at the Hilton Eugene with Dave Wilcox, a University of Oregon gridiron standout and NFL Hall of Fame member with the San Francisco 49ers.

Emerald Kidsports is a non-profit organization that provides activities for elementary school age children in the Eugene-Springfield area.

During his luncheon address, Kersey encouraged coaches and parents to allow children to enjoy the camaraderie of sports. He also urged parents to not live vicariously through their kids.

"Don't try to make them what you weren't," Kersey said.

Parents also play a big role in their child's sporting life despite spending less time with them than their coaches do. And it's important to console their child after a disappointing sports loss, Kersey said.

"As a parent you have to listen. If you don't listen, you don't know what's on their mind," he said.

Born and raised in Virginia, Kersey attended Longwood College, a small Division II school near Richmond. He was selected by the Blazers in the second round of the 1984 NBA draft. Kersey would go on to play 11 seasons with Portland. He later played for Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle, San Antonio and Milwaukee before retiring in 2001.

After a few years away from the game, Kersey has returned to the Trail Blazers where he's currently the director of player programs and development . In that role Kersey serves as a liaison between management, players, coaches and the community, he said.

The Blazers have suffered an image problem in the past few years. Several players have had drug and alcohol related arrests as well as bad behavior on the court.

While the Blazers have a long way to go to dispel their "Jail Blazers" image, the franchise is making headway in reconnecting with the community, Kersey said.

"Hopefully we can get back to the era of Rip City, and hopefully you'll be able to bring the family to see Trail Blazers games again," he said.

Those comments resonated with Kathiand Steve Jackson, parents of University of Oregon basketball star Luke Jackson, who will have a workout with the Blazers on Tuesday.

"I'm excited about the prospects of Luke possibly playing on a Blazer squad that does not have a Rasheed Wallace or a Bonzi Wells flipping off the crowd," Steve Jackson said.

Athletes do serve as role models to impressionable young children, Kathi Jackson said, noting the number of young children requesting Kersey's autograph following his 20-minute speech.

"We're all hungry for good heroes," she said.
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Title Annotation:Recreation; That's the advice of ex-Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey at a gathering celebrating 50 years of Kidsports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 16, 2004
Words:549
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