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Giving back: Topekans Weems, Wilhoite coming home to headline unique camp

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Last summer Highland Park grads Kyle Weems and Mike Wilhoite were back in Topeka to be inducted into the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Hall of Fame.

On July 7 the local sports icons will return home to host the Darting Basketball Academy Youth Foundation's Big Kev's Community Give Back Dual Basketball/Football Camp at Shawnee Heights.

Weems was the Missouri Valley Player of the Year before putting together a long and continuing pro basketball career overseas while Wilhoite played seven years in the NFL with the 49ers and Seahawks, including a Super Bowl appearance, and is currently the linebackers coach for the Chargers. 

KyleWeems2 1Former Highland Park and Missouri State basketball star Kyle Weems will be back in Topeka on July 7 to host a combo basketball/football camp with close friend and current NFL coach Mike Wilhoite. [Twitter]

MichaelWilhoite3 1Former NFL linebacker and current Chargers assistant coach Mike Wilhoite will host a combo football/basketball camp with Kyle Weems on July 7 at Shawnee Heights. [Niner Noise]

Darting camp

Weems said it was only a matter of time until the close friends did a camp together in the town they love while honoring the memory of Kyle's late father, Kevin, a former Washburn basketball player who had a big influence on both Kyle and Mike's careers.

"It was kind of the best of both worlds,'' Weems said. "I've been talking with Kerry (Darting) for a while now, just about a basketball (camp) and I know that Mike has already done his own camp up at Washburn some years back. My dad, one thing that he always made sure to voice to us is that he thought it would be great if we could do a camp sometime in the future for the city of Topeka.

"Our schedules kind of butted heads for a little bit between his active playing days, my playing days still going on and then obviously the pandemic kind of slowed some things down, but it also got our minds flowing a little bit so I'm excited to finally be able to do this. We're getting to do it together, we're getting to do it with Kerry, who we're really close with, and obviously with coach (Ken) Darting and for the city of Topeka in honor of my dad, so it's a beautiful thing.''

Wilhoite agreed.

"If it was up to (Kevin) me and Kyle would be high school teachers at Highland Park and I'd coach football and he'd coach basketball,'' Wilhoite said. "Big Kev would be at every game and he'd be talking trash to everybody and as soon as the games were over he'd be talking trash to Kyle and I. He loved Topeka and he loved working in those schools because he loved being around the kids.

"He raised me, he raised Kyle. I was only around him for 10 years, 12 years, but he raised me. He taught me so much.''

Weems, who returned to Kansas City on Sunday after comleting his pro season in Italy, said he jumps at any chance he gets to return to his home town.

 "Honestly, even with me being in Kansas City just being married with two kids and still trying to stay in shape during the summer I don't get to come back as much as I would like, so whenever I do and I'm able to pop in and see multiple people I do it,'' Weems said. "I'm really excited about this camp and just being able to spend a full day there and see some familiar faces will be great.''

It's a little tougher for Wilhoite to make the trek from Los Angeles, but he's also looking forward to the upcoming camp.

"It was just a quick suggesion: Why don't we do our camps together and do basketball and football together where we're both known and people will come out and we can help and we can make a difference,'' Wilhoite said. "Kerry came back to us towards the end of COVID and said he wanted to do something and it was perfect because Kyle and I had already talked about it. So then the stars aligned.''

The DBA event is a rare camp that combines football and basketball, which Wilhoite said he's excited about as a big fan of multi-sport athletes.

"I always want to promote every sport,'' Wihoite said. "I think kids should play all sports. I think it's a travesty nowdays that sometimes that's not accepted and that's not OK and coaches make it all about their sport and their time and not about the kid. Because if you're truly making it about the kid you're going to promote them to do everything, try everything, see what you like while also knowing that track is only going to make you better in football, playing basketball is only going to make you better in football, football's only going to make you stronger for basketball.

"Why not combine (the camps)? And you're giving back to the city that gave us so much. Why wouldn't we do as much as we can? If I knew how to play baseball I'd say let's do baseball in the evening.''

The July 7 camp will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and athletes will have the option between all-day basketball or football camps or can split their time between half-day basketball and football camps. Athletes can register online at dartingbasketball.com through Friday.

One hundred percent of the camp profits will be donated to Topeka non-profit organizations.