Corey Jones, a senior at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick, said he was surprised to be nominated as this year’s homecoming king. But what surprised him even more was that he took home the crown during the school’s annual pep rally and Colt Fest on Sept. 21.
“For a while, I didn’t even know we had a homecoming king and queen,” he said with a laugh. “I’m glad that I won and that the people nominated were also selected to be in the running — they are great people as well.”
With the help of his basketball teammates, Jones, a Merrick native and starting point guard, visits sixth-graders at Camp Avenue Elementary School three times a year as part of Athletes Helping Athletes. The local organization provides mentoring to younger students interested in playing sports.
Jones, 17, said he has been part of the program for two years and enjoys the interactions.
“We mostly talk about good sportsmanship, how to avoid drugs and alcohol, following the rules and just finding the good in sports,” he said. “I remember when the older students used to visit my class when I was in elementary school and I realized how much of an impact it’s made in my life — just seeing the future I could have as an athlete.”
According to its website, Athletes Helping Athletes offers several youth leadership conferences and programs as well as projects on drug and alcohol prevention, violence prevention and community service.
“Sixth grade is a huge transition into middle school, so that’s why we speak with them specifically,” Jones added.
Jones said he will continue focusing on his grades and staying involved with AHA but hopes to play basketball in college next year.
“AHA showed me the good you can put into people,” he said. “It shows how kind and caring you have to be in order to be successful in life and I think that’s a big thing. I’m glad we can help these kids in such a unique way.”