Take one look at Dan Cross’s All Fundamentals Basketball Camp at St. Francis High School in Gainesville this week, and it’s clear he is all about giving back to the community.
For nine years, Cross has been teaching youth basketball players skills for the game, as well as for life, such as respect, saying thank you, and asking for help when needed.
Cross, who played for the Florida Gators from 1992 to 1995, also devotes his time to try to help another group of young people: student-athletes near the end of their college careers.
With few resources to help players after their careers are over, Dan Cross took it upon himself to create Athlete Connections to help these athletes deal with what he went through.
“Through my own emotions, through my own anger, through depression, through every emotion that a student-athlete has had, I’ve dealt with,” he said on Thursday. “And I just wanted to now prepare young men and women for what was next for the rest of their lives.”
Working closely with universities, Cross teaches specific skills and tools to the student-athletes.
“I put together a life-skills curriculum that’s being taught by University of Florida and some other universities that allows the student-athletes to learn the basics that school doesn’t teach you; financial literacy, career assessment, nutrition, how to network under the guidelines of the NCAA,” he said.
The Athlete Connections website also acts like Monster.com, but specifically for athletes looking for eventual careers.
Cross said he hopes to be able to impact the lives of the collegiate players and teach them they can have an impact much greater than on a playing field.
He has seen firsthand the power sports can have on societies around the globe.
“I’ve seen war stop for a day because of a round basketball or soccer ball, religions that have been fighting for years,” he said, “all through the skill sets that athletes possess.”
Because of the tremendous support he received in his playing days, Cross said it was only right to return the favor.
And he said he will continue to help out athletes and hopes to prevent hearing them say, “I wish someone would have told me when I was younger.”
Besides his basketball camp at St. Francis, Cross has held camps this summer in Orlando and his hometown of Carbondale, Ill.